, Volume 105, Issue 3, pp 1787–1807 | Cite as

The structure and dynamics of networks of scientific collaborations in Northern Africa

  • Fabio LandiniEmail author
  • Franco Malerba
  • Roberto Mavilia


We examine the structure and dynamics of network of scientific international collaborations within North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt) using both publishing and patent data. Results show that the region has undergone a sustained process of internationalization, which has translated in both an expansion of the network of scientific collaborations and a relative increase in the research output of international teams. At the same time we find the existence of a very limited degree of scientific integration at the regional level, i.e. within Northern Africa. Among the countries examined, Egypt seems to be the most active one in terms of size of research output as well as number and variety of international collaborations. Moreover, Egypt is the most central node of the regional research network and this centrality has considerably grown over time. This increased importance of Egypt as regional research hub is associated with a remarkable increase in the centrality of Saudi Arabia within Egypt’s research network. This holds across a variety of research fields as well as in terms of applied science (as shown by patent data). Overall, these results suggest that the region is undergoing a deep transformation in the structure and composition of scientific collaborations.


Research collaboration Scientific research North Africa Patents Network analysis 

JEL Classification

C80 (data collection and data estimation methodology: general) O10 (economic development: general) O55 (economywide country studies: Africa) 


  1. Adams, J. (2012). Collaborations: The rise of research networks. Nature, 490(7420), 335–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, J., Gurney, K., Hook, D., & Leydesdorff, L. (2014). International collaboration clusters in Africa. Scientometrics, 98(1), 547–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barabâsi, A. L., Jeong, H., Néda, Z., Ravasz, E., Schubert, A., & Vicsek, T. (2002). Evolution of the social network of scientific collaborations. Physica A, 311(3), 590–614.MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. Beaver, D. D. (2001). Reflections on scientific collaboration, (and its study): Past, present, and future. Scientometrics, 52(3), 365–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bond, M., Maram, H., Soliman, A., & Khattab, R. (2012). Science and innovation in Egypt. London: The Royal Society.Google Scholar
  6. Borgatti, S. P., & Everett, M. G. (2000). Models of core/periphery structures. Social Networks, 21(4), 375–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boshoff, N. (2010). South-South research collaboration of countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Scientometrics, 84(2), 481–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chase-Dunn, C. K. (1998). Global formation: Structures of the world-economy. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  9. Coffano, M. & Tarasconi, G. (2014). CRIOS—Patstat database: Sources, contents and access rules. CRIOS Working Paper No. 1.Google Scholar
  10. Crane, D. (1972). Invisible colleges: Diffusion of knowledge in scientific communities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cronin, B., Shaw, D., & La Barre, K. (2004). Visible, less visible, and invisible work: Patterns of collaboration in 20th century chemistry. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55(2), 160–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. de Noovy, W., Mrvar, A., & Batagelj, V. (2005). Exploratory social network analysis with Pajek. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Frenken, K., Hardeman, S., & Hoekman, J. (2009). Spatial scientometrics: Towards a cumulative research program. Journal of Informetrics, 3(3), 222–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2005). Analysing scientific networks through co-authorship: Handbook of quantitative science and technology research (pp. 257–276). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Global Research Report. (2011). Middle East: Exploring the changing landscape of Arabian, Persian and Turkish research. London: Evidence-Thomson Reuters.Google Scholar
  16. Grossman, J. W. (2002). The evolution of the mathematical research collaboration graph. Congressus Numerantium, 158, 201–212.Google Scholar
  17. Katz, J. S. (1994). Geographical proximity and scientific collaboration. Scientometrics, 31(1), 31–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Krugman, P. (1996). The self-organizing economy (Vol. 122). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  19. Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  20. Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Mêgnigbêto, E. (2013). International collaboration in scientific publishing: The case of West Africa (2001–2010). Scientometrics, 96(3), 761–783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Moody, J. (2004). The structure of a social science collaboration network: Disciplinary cohesion from 1963 to 1999. American Sociological Review, 69(2), 213–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Onyancha, O. B., & Maluleka, J. R. (2011). Knowledge production through collaborative research in sub-Saharan Africa: How much do countries contribute to each other’s knowledge output and citation impact? Scientometrics, 87(2), 315–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Persson, O., Glanzel, W., & Danell, R. (2004). Inflationary bibliometric values: The role of scientific collaboration and the need for relative indicators in evaluative studies. Scientometrics, 60, 421–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Shin, J. C., Lee, S. J., & Kim, Y. (2013). Research collaboration across higher education systems: Maturity, language use, and regional differences. Studies in Higher Education, 38(3), 425–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sonnenwald, D. H. (2007). Scientific collaboration. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 41, 643–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Steiber, S. R. (1979). The world system and world trade: An empirical exploration of conceptual conflicts. The Sociological Quarterly, 20(1), 23–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wagner, C. S., & Leydesdorff, L. (2005). Network structure, self-organization, and the growth of international collaboration in science. Research Policy, 34(10), 1608–1618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wallerstein, I. (2011). The modern world-system (Vol. 1). Oakland: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). Social network analysis: Methods and applications (Vol. 8). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabio Landini
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Franco Malerba
    • 2
  • Roberto Mavilia
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.MEDAlicsReggio CalabriaItaly
  2. 2.CRIOSBocconi UniversityMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations