Allometric models to measure and analyze the evolution of international research collaboration

Mario Coccia, Barry Bozeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


A fundamental problem in the field of the social studies of science is how to measure the patterns of international scientific collaboration to analyse the structure and evolution of scientific fields. This study here confronts the problem by developing an allometric model of morphological changes in order to measure and analyse the relative growth of international research collaboration in comparison with domestic collaboration only for fields of science. Statistical analysis, based on data of internationally co-authored papers from National Science Foundation (1997–2012 period), shows an acceleration (a disproportionate relative growth) of collaboration patterns in medical sciences, social sciences, geosciences, agricultural sciences, and psychology (predominantly applied fields). By contrast, some predominantly basic fields, including physics and mathematics, have lower levels of relative growth in international scientific collaboration. These characteristics of patterns of international research collaboration seem to be vital contributing factors for the evolution of the social dynamics and social construction of science. The main aim of this article is therefore to clarify the on-going evolution of scientific fields that might be driven by the plexus (interwoven combination of parts in a system) of research disciplines, which generates emerging research fields with high growth rates of international scientific collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1084
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Allometry
  • Applied research
  • Basic research
  • Dynamics of science
  • Evolution of science
  • International research collaboration
  • Measuring evolution of research fields
  • Scientific fields

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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