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Scientometrics

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 65–84 | Cite as

Studies in scientific collaboration

Part I. The professional origins of scientific co-authorship
  • D. deB Beaver
  • R. Rosen
Article

Abstract

From a historical and sociological perspective, this essay presents and develops the first comprehensive theory of scientific collaboration: collaborative scientific research, formally acknowledged by co-authorships of scientific papers, originated, developed, and continues to be practiced as a response to the professionalization of science. Following an overview of the origins and early history of collaboration in the 17th and 18th centuries, a study of the first professionalized scientific community, that of Napoleonic France, confirms that, as the theory predicts, collaboration is a typical research style associated with professionalization. In the early 19th century, virtually all joint research was performed by French scientists; collaborative research only appeared much later in England and Germany when they, too, underwent professionalization. That historical finding, which constitutes a puzzling anomaly for any other view of scientific teamwork, here conforms to theoretical expectation. Several other predictions of the theory are presented, to be taken-up in subsequent studies.

Keywords

18th Century Scientific Community Collaborative Research Scientific Paper Early 19th Century 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and references

  1. 2.
    See, for example, M. SMITH, The Trend Toward Multiple Authorship in Psychology,American Psychologist, 13 (1958) 596–599, J. P. PHILLIPS, The Individual in Chemical Research,Science, 121 (1955) 311–312; W. R. UTZ,American Mathematical Society Notices, 9 (1962) 196–199; B. L. CLARKE, Multiple Authorship Trends in Scientific Papers,Science, 143 (1964) 822–824; D. de SOLLA PRICE,Little Science, Big Science, Columbia University Press, New York, 1963, p. 87–90.Google Scholar
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    For a comprehensive review of these positions, see H. ZUCKERMAN, Nobel Laureates in the United States: A Sociological Study of Scientific Collaboration, (Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1965), Chapter 1. (Revision, without extensive co-authorship statistics, published asScientific Elite, Nobel Laureates in the United States, Free Press, New York, 1977).Google Scholar
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    The best of these are: H. ZUCKERMAN, op. cit. Nobel Laureates in the United States: A Sociological Study of Scientific Collaboration, (Unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1965), and two works by W. D. HAGSTROM, Traditional and Modern Forms of Teamwork,Administrative Science Quarterly, 9 (1964) 241–263, andThe Scientific Community, Basic Books, New York, 1965, Chapter III.Google Scholar
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    Although the sociologist R. MERTON has been most influential in studying science as a community, his approach tends to obscure certain important factors. First, his postulation that the scientific community is organized around four norms (organized skepticism, universalism, communality, disinterestedness), either denies the existence of other motivations in a scientist's career or downgrades them by making them only isolated deviations normally to be shunned by scientists. More significantly, MERTON's work has oriented the sociology of science toward explaining the structure of the scientific community in terms of these four norms and consequently influenced others toward the view that scientists' behavior can be explained as either conforming to or deviating from the norms. Finally, reliance on this normative ideology, especially when priority or recognition is involved (two case which are statistically significant events in the scientific community) has led sociologists of science to treat status as a passive phenomenon (not leading to power which is tabooed by the norms: such a sase in which power or authority was involved would be treated as an isolated deviation). In this view status seeking is a permissible goal only when it can be explained as the natural result of conflicting norms. Thus this provision eliminates the need for explanations based on other non-positivistic possibilities. For an extended discussion of MERTON'S influence on the sociology of science see: M. D. KING, Reason, Tradition, and the Progressiveness of Science,History and Theory, 10 (1971)Google Scholar
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    G. DANIELS offers a possible historical view of professionalization as progressing through four distinct but overlapping stages: pre-emption, institutionalization, legitimation, and professional autonomy. According to DANIELS, pre-emption marks a declaration of independence, that only those who are specially educated and trained in science are fit to contribute to science and to evaluate scientific contributions. Consequently, no longer can science be considered a province for convenient dabbling by the well-educated and well-meaning amateur. Scientific research is reserved for the practitioner, and a zealous defense and preservation of that domain underlies the xenophobic and chauvinistic character of pure science. The formation of scientific societies, journals, observatories, museums, research laboratories, foundations, and social educational institutions or curricula for science marks the emergence of the second stage, institutionalization. The third step, legitimation, signifies social acceptance of the previous two stages, through acknowledgement and support of the newly formed social system of science. Professional autonomy, the final and most crucial stage, is that in which the professional leaders of science gain the ability to control and direct social resources in support of science without significant interference on the part of non-scientists. Although this schema offers a context in which to place the historical growth of professionalization, we prefer to view the process as open-ended, without a “last” stage. See, G. DANIELS, The Process of Professionalization in American Science: The Emergent Period, 1820–1869,Isis, 58 (1967) 151–166.Google Scholar
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    This is similar to the critique which N. STORER levels against the genealogy of scientific norms proposed by R. K. MERTON, B. BARBER. Cf. R. I. WTORER,The Social System of Science, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1966, p. 83–86.Google Scholar
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    C. BABBAGE,Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, p. 10–11, as quoted in MENDELSOHN, op. cit., The Emergence of Science as a Profession in Ninetteenth-Century Europe, in:The Management of Scientists, K. HILL, (Ed.), p. 22.Google Scholar
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    E. MENDELSOHN, op. cit. The Emergence of Science as a Profession in Nineteenth-Century Europe, in:The Management of Scientists, K. HILL, (Ed.), p. 31.Google Scholar
  29. 37.
    We here defer treatment of the third consequence to a forthcoming essay, in which it is shown to be the case: See scientific Co-authorship, Research Productivity and Visibility in the French Scientific Elite, 1799–1830: Studies in Scientific Collaboration II,Scientometrics, in press.Google Scholar
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    For information about the statistics of such sampling, see L. GOODMAN, Snowball Sampling,Annals of Mathematical Statistics, 32 (1961) 148–170.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. deB Beaver
    • 1
  • R. Rosen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of History of ScienceWilliams CollegeWilliamstown(USA)
  2. 2.New York City(USA)

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