Understanding persistent scientific collaboration


Common sense suggests that persistence is key to success. In academia, successful researchers have been found more likely to be persistent in publishing, but little attention has been given to how persistence in maintaining collaborative relationships affects career success. This paper proposes a new bibliometric understanding of persistence that considers the prominent role of collaboration in contemporary science. Using this perspective, we analyze the relationship between persistent collaboration and publication quality along several dimensions: degree of transdisciplinarity, difference in coauthor’s scientific age and their scientific impact, and research-team size. Contrary to traditional wisdom, our results show that persistent scientific collaboration does not always result in high-quality papers. We find that the most persistent transdisciplinary collaboration tends to output high-impact publications, and that those coauthors with diverse scientific impact or scientific ages benefit from persistent collaboration more than homogeneous compositions. We also find that researchers persistently working in large groups tend to publish lower-impact papers. These results contradict the colloquial understanding of collaboration in academia and paint a more nuanced picture of how persistent scientific collaboration relates to success, a picture that can provide valuable insights to researchers, funding agencies, policy makers, and mentor–mentee program directors. Moreover, the methodology in this study showcases a feasible approach to measure persistent collaboration.

Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology