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Multi-University Research Teams: Shifting Impact, Geography, and Stratification in Science

Science  21 Nov 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5905, pp. 1259-1262
DOI: 10.1126/science.1158357

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Abstract

This paper demonstrates that teamwork in science increasingly spans university boundaries, a dramatic shift in knowledge production that generalizes across virtually all fields of science, engineering, and social science. Moreover, elite universities play a dominant role in this shift. By examining 4.2 million papers published over three decades, we found that multi-university collaborations (i) are the fastest growing type of authorship structure, (ii) produce the highest-impact papers when they include a top-tier university, and (iii) are increasingly stratified by in-group university rank. Despite the rising frequency of research that crosses university boundaries, the intensification of social stratification in multi-university collaborations suggests a concentration of the production of scientific knowledge in fewer rather than more centers of high-impact science.

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