Impactful scientists have higher tendency to involve collaborators in new topics

by   An Zeng, et al.

In scientific research, collaboration is one of the most effective ways to take advantage of new ideas, skills, resources, and for performing interdisciplinary research. Although collaboration networks have been intensively studied, the question of how individual scientists choose collaborators to study a new research topic remains almost unexplored. Here, we investigate the statistics and mechanisms of collaborations of individual scientists along their careers, revealing that, in general, collaborators are involved in significantly fewer topics than expected from controlled surrogate. In particular, we find that highly productive scientists tend to have higher fraction of single-topic collaborators, while highly cited, i.e., impactful, scientists have higher fraction of multi-topic collaborators. We also suggest a plausible mechanism for this distinction. Moreover, we investigate the cases where scientists involve existing collaborators into a new topic. We find that compared to productive scientists, impactful scientists show strong preference of collaboration with high impact scientists on a new topic. Finally, we validate our findings by investigating active scientists in different years and across different disciplines.


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