Minerva

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 461–488

Cognitive and Social Structure of the Elite Collaboration Network of Astrophysics: A Case Study on Shifting Network Structures

Article
  • 296 Downloads

Abstract

Scientific collaboration can only be understood along the epistemic and cognitive grounding of scientific disciplines. New scientific discoveries in astrophysics led to a major restructuring of the elite network of astrophysics. To study the interplay of the epistemic grounding and the social network structure of a discipline, a mixed-methods approach is necessary. It combines scientometrics, quantitative network analysis and visualization tools with a qualitative network analysis approach. The centre of the international collaboration network of astrophysics is demarcated by identifying the 225 most productive astrophysicists. For the years 1998–1999 and 2001–2006 four co-authorship networks are constructed comprehending each a two year period. A visualization of the longitudinal network data gives first hints on the structural development of the network. The network of 2005–2006 is analyzed in depth. Based on cohesion analysis tools for network analysis, two main cores and three smaller ones are identified. Scientists in each core and additionally in structurally interesting positions are identified and 17 qualitative expert interviews are conducted with them. The visualization of the network of 2005–2006 is used in the interviews as a stimulus for the interviewees. An analysis of the three most often used keywords of the 225 astrophysicists is included and combined with the other data. The triangulation of these approaches shows that major epistemic changes in astrophysics, e.g. the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe, together with technical and organizational innovations, leads to a restructuring of the network of the discipline. The importance of a combination of qualitative and quantitative network analysis tools for the understanding of the interplay of cognitive and social structure in the sociology of science is substantiated.

Keywords

Scientific networks Cognitive structure Co-authorship network Astrophysics Scientific collaboration Elite network Social network analysis Epistemic culture Scientific disciplines Dark energy 

References

  1. Batagelj, Vladimir, and Andrej Mrvar. 2010. Pajek Reference Manual: List of commands with short explanation version 2.00.Google Scholar
  2. Batagelj, Vladimir, and Mat Jaž Zaverŝnik. 2002. Generalized cores. University of Ljubljana, Preprint 799: 1–8.Google Scholar
  3. Beaver, Donald D., and Richard Rosen. 1978. Studies in scientific collaboration. Part I. The professional origins of scientific co-authorship. Scientometrics 1: 65–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becher, Tony, and Paul R. Trowler. 2001. Academic tribes and territories. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bonaccorsi, Andrea. 2007. Explaining poor performance of European science: Institutions versus policies. Science and Public Policy 34: 303–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bonaccorsi, Andrea. 2008. Search regimes and the industrial dynamics of science. Minerva 46: 285–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Breiger, Ron L. 1976. Career attributes and network structure: A blockmodel study of a biomedical research speciality. American Sociological Review 41: 117–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burt, Ronald S. 1992. Structural holes: The social structure of competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chubin, Daryl. 1976. The conceptualisation of scientific specialities. Sociological Quarterly 17: 448–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Claspy, William P. 1998. Information use in astronomy. Library and information service in Astronomy III ASP Conference Series 153: 1–9.Google Scholar
  11. DFG. 2003. Status und Perspektiven der Astronomie in Deutschland 2003–2016. New Jersey: Wiley-VCH.Google Scholar
  12. Economist, The. 2009. The future of astronomy: Black-sky thinking. 1–2.Google Scholar
  13. Edge, David O., and Michael Joseph Mulkay. 1976. Astronomy Transformed: The emergence of radio astronomy. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Fernandez, Julio A. 1998. The transition from an individual science to a collective one: The case of astronomy. Scientometrics 42: 61–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fuhse, Jan. 2009. The meaning structure of social networks. Sociological Theory 27: 51–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goldsmith, Donald. 2000. The runaway universe: The race to find the future of the cosmos. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Gordon, Michael D. 1980. A critical reassessment of inferred relations between multiple authorship, scientific collaboration, the production of papers and their acceptance for publication. Scientometrics 2: 193–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grewing, Michael. 2006. Selecting and scheduling observations at the IRAM observatories. In Organizations and strategies in astronomy, vol. 7, ed. André Heck, 203–226. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Grothkopf, Uta, Bruno Leibundgut, Duccio Macchetto, Juan P. Madrid, and Claus Leitherer. 2005. Comparison of science metrics among observatories. The ESO Messenger 119: 45–49.Google Scholar
  20. Hagstrom, Warren O. 1965. The scientific community. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  21. Halliwell, Micheal John. 1982. Prestige allocation in astronomical research—a study of dysfunctional aspects. Pacific Sociological Review 25: 233–249.Google Scholar
  22. Heck, André. 2003. Astronomy professional communication. Astrophysics and Space science library 290: 203–220.Google Scholar
  23. Heidler, Richard, Regina von Görtz, and Karola Barnekow. 2010. Astrophysics research in Germany. In Disciplinary differences, governance and performance in universities and research organizations. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  24. Hohn, Hans-Willy. 1998. Kognitive Strukturen und Steuerungsprobleme der Forschung. Kernphysik und Informatik im Vergleich. Frankfurt. a. M./New York: Campus Verlag.Google Scholar
  25. Jansen, Dorothea. 1998. Hochtemperatursupraleitung—Herausforderungen für Forschung, Wirtschaft und Politik. Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  26. Jansen, Dorothea, Regina von Görtz, and Richard Heidler. 2010. Knowledge production and the structure of collaboration networks in two scientific fields. Scientometrics 83: 219–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kamada, Tomihisa, and Satoru Kawai. 1989. An algorithm for drawing general undirected graphs. Information Processing Letters 31: 7–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kirshner, Robert P. 2002. The extravagant universe: Exploding stars, dark energy, and the accelerating cosmos. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Knoke, David, and James H. Kulinsky. 1982. Network analysis. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Knorr-Cetina, Karin. 2002. Wissenskulturen. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  31. Kolb, Rocky. 2007. A Thousand invisible cords binding astronomy and high-energy physics. Reports on Progress in Physics 70: 1583–1595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kuhn, Thomas S. 1957. The Copernican revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Kuhn, Thomas S. 1962. The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Lahav, Ofer. 2001. Large surveys in cosmology: The changing sociology. In Organizations, strategies in astronomy, vol. 2, ed. André Heck, 139–148. Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Laudel, Grit, and Jochen Gläser. 2007. Interviewing scientists. Science, Technology & Innovation Studies 3: 91–111.Google Scholar
  36. Leydesdorff, Loet, and Ismael Rafols. 2009. A global map of science based on the ISI subject categories. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 60: 348–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lorenz, Eckhard. 2009. Ground-based, very high energy gamma-ray astronomy—a tool for exploring the ultrarelativistic universe. Herbst-Workshop der AG Phil History and Philosophy of Astroparticle Physics 1–80.Google Scholar
  38. Luhmann, Niklas. 1992. Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  39. March, James G. 1991. Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science 2: 71–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McCray, W.Patrick. 2000. Large telescopes and the moral economy of recent astronomy. Social Science Studies 30: 685–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McPherson, Miller, Lynn Smith-Lovin, James M. Cook. 2001. Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks. Annual Review of Sociology 27: 415–444.Google Scholar
  42. Meadows, Arthur J. 1974. Communication in science. London: Butterworths.Google Scholar
  43. Merton, Robert K. 1957. Priorities in scientific discovery: A chapter in the sociology of science. American Sociological Review 22: 635–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Merton, Robert K., and Elinor Barber. 2006. The travels and adventures of serendipity: A study in sociological semantics and the sociology of science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Moody, James. 2004. The structure of a social science collaboration network: Disciplinary cohesion from 1963 to 1999. American Sociological Review 69: 213–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moody, James, and Douglas White. 2003. Social cohesion and embeddedness: A hierarchical conception of social groups. American Sociological Review 68: 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mullins, Nicholas C., Lowell L. Hargens, Pamela K. Hecht, and Edward L.Kick. 1977. The group structure of cocitation clusters. American Sociological Review 42: 552–562.Google Scholar
  48. Newman, Mark E.J. 2001a. Scientific collaboration networks I. Network construction and fundamental results. Physical Review E 64: 1–8.Google Scholar
  49. Newman, Mark E.J. 2001b. Scientific collaboration networks II. Shortest paths, weighted networks, and centrality. Physical Review E 64: 1–7.Google Scholar
  50. Newman, Mark E.J. 2004. Co-authorship networks and patterns of scientific collaboration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 101: 5200–5205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pachucki, Mark A., and Ronald Breiger. 2010. Cultural holes: Beyond relationality in social networks and culture. Annual Review of Sociology 36: 205–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Perlmutter, Saul et al. 1999. Measurements of Ω and Λ from 42 High-Redshift Supernovae. The Astrophysical Journal 517: 565–586.Google Scholar
  53. Riess, Adam G. et al. 1998. Observational evidence from supernovae for an accelerating universe and a cosmological constant. The Astronomical Journal 116: 1009–1038.Google Scholar
  54. Rowlands, Ian. 1999. Patterns of author cocitation in information policy: Evidence of social, collaborative and cognitive structure. Scientometrics 44: 533–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. SDSS. 1998. Last piece for advanced new telescope heads for the mountain. http://www.sdss.org/news/releases/19980211.spectro.html.
  56. Seidmann, Stephen. 1983. Network structure and minimum degree. Social Networks 5: 269–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sovacool, Benjamin. 2005. Falsification and demarcation in astronomy and cosmology. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 25: 53–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stichweh, Rudolf. 1992. The sociology of scientific disciplines: On the Genesis and stability of the disciplinary structure of modern science. Science in Context 5: 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stokes, T.D., and J.A. Hartley. 1989. Coauthorship, social structure and influence within specialities. Social Studies of Science 19: 101–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Trimble, Virginia. 2009. A generation of astronomical telescopes, their users and publications. Scientometrics 84: 21–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Völk, Heinz, Peter Biermann, and Hugo Fechtig. 1987. Denkschrift Astronomie. Wiley VCH.Google Scholar
  62. White, Simon. 2007. Fundamentalist physics: Why dark energy is bad for astronomy. Reports on Progress in Physics 70: 883–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. White, Simon, and Rocky Kolb. 2007. The Toronto dark energy smackdown: A debate on the future direction of astronomy. http://hosting.epresence.tv/CITA/1/watch/29.aspx.
  64. Whitley, Richard. 1972. Black boxism and the sociology of science: a discussion of the major developements in the field. In The Sociology of Science—The Sociological Review Monograph 18, University of Keele, 61–92.Google Scholar
  65. Whitley, Richard. 2000. The intellectual and social organization of sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lehrstuhl Soziologie der OrganisationWuppertalGermany

Personalised recommendations