, Volume 117, Issue 1, pp 227–247 | Cite as

A new bibliometric approach to measure knowledge transfer of internationally mobile scientists

  • Valeria Aman


This study introduces a new bibliometric approach to study the effects of international scientific mobility on knowledge transfer. It is based on an analysis of internationally mobile and non-internationally mobile German scientists publishing in journals that are indexed in Scopus. Using bibliometric data such co-authored articles, references and lexical abstract terms from the Scopus database, a method is presented that is based on cosine similarity to measure the similarity of the knowledge base of authors and their co-authors. This quantifiable method is capable of revealing potential knowledge transfer between internationally mobile scientists and different types of co-authors. In addition, the Shannon index is used as a diversity measure to analyse the knowledge base of scientists. Analyses are presented for an overall 9-year publication period (2007–2015), split into a pre-mobility phase, a mobility phase and a post-mobility phase, each of which lasts for 3 years. Internationally mobile scientists are compared with non-internationally mobile scientists and the potentials and limitations of the method presented are discussed. It is concluded that the bibliometric approach proposed is useful when applied on a large scale. International mobility proves to benefit the exchange of knowledge between scientists and various types of co-authors.


International scientific mobility Knowledge transfer Cosine similarity Knowledge base Shannon index Scopus author ID Bibliometric approach 



The present study is an extended version of an article presented at the 16th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics, Wuhan (China), 16–20 October 2017. The study was funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) under the Grant Number 01PQ16002. The data builds on the bibliometric database provided by the Competence Centre for Bibliometrics (Grant Number: 01PQ17001). I would like to thank Jochen Gläser and Nicolai Netz for their valuable comments during the genesis of the paper. I would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which have helped to improve the paper substantially.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW)BerlinGermany

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