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On the effects of the reunification on German researchers’ publication patterns

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After developing independently following World War II, the research systems of East and West Germany reunited at the end of the Cold War, resulting in Westernization of East German Research institutions. Using data from the Web of Science over the 1980–2000 period, this paper analyses the effects of these political changes on the research activity of scholars from East and West Germany before and after the reunification. It shows that these groups differ in terms of levels of production, publication language, collaboration patterns and scientific impact and that, unsurprisingly, the scholarly output of the East became much more similar to that of the West after the reunification. At the level of individual researchers, analysis shows that East German researchers who had direct or indirect ties with the West prior to the 1990s were less affected by the reunification, or were perhaps quicker to adapt to this major change, than their colleagues who were more deeply rooted in the Eastern research system.

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  1. There is a multiplicative effect caused by the assignation of multiple disciplines to some researchers. Thus, the total number of authors in Table 1 is larger than the number of distinct researchers.

  2. “Eastern countries” refers to: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Belarus, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, Estonia, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Georgia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, USSR, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia.

  3. “Western countries” refers to: All countries not comprised in the aforementioned definition of Eastern countries.

  4. It should be noted that the East–West mobility of German researchers might slightly inflate their collaboration with East–West countries. For example, collaborations with the West of a GDR researcher who, himself, moved to the West will be counted as a collaboration between the West and the GDR.


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The authors would like to thank the two anonymous referees for their precise and constructive comments, as well as Rodrigo Costas from the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) for his help with the disambiguation of the Web of Science authors.

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Correspondence to Antoine Archambault.

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Archambault, A., Mongeon, P. & Larivière, V. On the effects of the reunification on German researchers’ publication patterns. Scientometrics 111, 337–347 (2017).

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