MPIDR Working Paper

A global perspective on the social structure of science

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2023-029, 23 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (May 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.

Keywords: World, inequality, science
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.