, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 575-589

Collaboration uncovered: Exploring the adequacy of measuring university-industry collaboration through co-authorship and funding

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Analysing co-authored publications has become the standard way to measure research collaborations. At the same time bibliometric researchers have advised that co-authorship based indicators should be handled with care as a source of evidence on actual scientific collaboration. The aim of this study is to assess how well university-industry collaborations can be identified and described using co-authorship data. This is done through a comparison of co-authorship data with industrial funding to a medical university. In total 436 companies were identified through the two methods. Our results show that one third of the companies that have provided funding to the university had not co-authored any publications with the university. Further, the funding indicator identified only 16% of the companies that had co-authored publications. Thus, both co-authorship and funding indicators provide incomplete results. We also observe a case of conflicting trends between funding and co-authorship indicators. We conclude that uncritical use of the two indicators may lead to misinterpretation of the development of collaborations and thus provide incorrect data for decision-making.