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Scientific discovery and topological transitions in collaboration networks

Author

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  • Bettencourt, Luís M.A.
  • Kaiser, David I.
  • Kaur, Jasleen

Abstract

We analyze the advent and development of eight scientific fields from their inception to maturity and map the evolution of their networks of collaboration over time, measured in terms of co-authorship of scientific papers. We show that as a field develops it undergoes a topological transition in its collaboration structure between a small disconnected graph to a much larger network where a giant connected component of collaboration appears. As a result, the number of edges and nodes in the largest component undergoes a transition between a small fraction of the total to a majority of all occurrences. These results relate to many qualitative observations of the evolution of technology and discussions of the “structure of scientific revolutions”. We analyze this qualitative change in network topology in terms of several quantitative graph theoretical measures, such as density, diameter, and relative size of the network's largest component.

Suggested Citation

  • Bettencourt, Luís M.A. & Kaiser, David I. & Kaur, Jasleen, 2009. "Scientific discovery and topological transitions in collaboration networks," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 210-221.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:infome:v:3:y:2009:i:3:p:210-221
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joi.2009.03.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bettencourt, Luís M.A. & Cintrón-Arias, Ariel & Kaiser, David I. & Castillo-Chávez, Carlos, 2006. "The power of a good idea: Quantitative modeling of the spread of ideas from epidemiological models," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 364(C), pages 513-536.
    2. Barabási, A.L & Jeong, H & Néda, Z & Ravasz, E & Schubert, A & Vicsek, T, 2002. "Evolution of the social network of scientific collaborations," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 311(3), pages 590-614.
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