, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 417-426

A bibliometric analysis of collaboration in a medical specialty

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Abstract

Investigating the relationships found in the documentation of a subject field is one method of examining the communication taking place in that field. Bibliometrics provides an objective method for this type of investigation. Coauthorship, while intuitively seeming to indicate strong communication links, nevertheless has been shown to produce graphical structures that vary with changes in threshold. Having determined that clustering structure does exist in the data, preferred partitions are identified as those least likely to have occurred by chance. Further analysis is made to test that the preferred or “meaningful” structures produced from the coauthor relationship do indeed correspond with empirical evidence of “meaning”. A small dataset of 371 authors and 550 coauthor pairs is used to investigate correspondence between experimental structures and empirical evidence. Results show that components of the experimental structures are largely consistent with subject content groups as determined by index terms. Geographic focus accounts for about half the cases showing term overlap. Hence, we have some evidence that bibliometric structures determined from the coauthor relationship may be consistent with networks of communication. If this continues to be documented by further research, bibliometric analysis of coauthor relationships found in the scholarly communication of a subject area can become a basic tool for communication research.