MPIDR Working Paper

A global perspective on the social structure of science

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2023-029, 23 pages.
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (Mai 2023)
Open Access


We reconstruct the career-long productivity, impact, (inter)national collaboration, and (inter)national mobility trajectory of 8.2 million scientists worldwide. We study the interrelationships among four well-established bibliometric claims about academics’ productivity, collaboration, mobility, and visibility. Scrutinizing these claims is only possible with a global perspective simultaneously considering influential bibliometric variables alongside collaboration among scientists. We use Multiple Correspondence Analysis with a combination of 12 widely-used bibliometric variables. We further analyze the networks of collaboration among these authors in the form of a bipartite co-authorship network and detect densely collaborating communities using Constant Potts Model. We found that the claims of literature on increased productivity, collaboration, and mobility are principally driven by a small fraction of influential scientists (top 10%). We find a hierarchically clustered structure with a small top class, and large middle and bottom classes. Investigating the composition of communities of collaboration networks in terms of these top-to-bottom classes and the academic age distribution shows that those at the top succeed by collaborating with a varying group of authors from other classes and age groups. Nevertheless, they are benefiting disproportionately to a much higher degree from this collaboration and its outcome in form of impact and citations.

Schlagwörter: Welt, inequality, science
Das Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (MPIDR) in Rostock ist eines der international führenden Zentren für Bevölkerungswissenschaft. Es gehört zur Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, einer der weltweit renommiertesten Forschungsgemeinschaften.