, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 219-238

An investigation of research collaboration in the sciences through the philosophical transactions 1901–1991

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Abstract

A sample was selected fromThe Philosophical Transactions of Royal Society of London to examine the development of collaboration in scientific research from 1901–1991. The variables under study were: changes with time, as reflected in the 19 years sampled; the number of collaborative papers, which were subdivided by number of authors, type of collaboration, and the number of unique departmental subject titles; and the number of authors involved in producing collaborative papers, in which the proportion and the mean number of authors per paper were computed according to type of collaboration. It was found that, while the proportion of collaborative papers fluctuated over the years, the number corresponded to an exponential increase over time. The collaboration in the first half of the century was sporadic but grew rapidly in the second half, especially the collaboration involving many authors from different institutions and countries in the production of a publication. The trend toward interdisciplinarity has become pronounced since the 1960s. The phenomenon was found to be associated with the average number of authors per interdisciplinary paper and the type of collaboration. The limitations of the study are indicated and future studies are suggested.