Scientific collaboration has become a universal phenomenon in recent years. Meanwhile, scholars tend to hunt for surprising collaborators for broadening their horizons. Serendipity initially denotes the fortunate discovery. Although a lot of literature is available on the topic of serendipity, little research has investigated serendipity in scientific collaborations. The objective of this paper is to identify serendipitous scientific collaborators of target scholars based on their collaboration data. First, we induce the definition of serendipitous scientific collaborators by three components, which are relevance, unexpectedness, and value, respectively. They are quantified as three intuitive indices corresponding to the network proximity, topic diversity, and collaborator influence, respectively. Second, we propose a classification model, called RUVMod, to classify all collaborators based on the analysis of three indices in definition. The serendipitous collaborator has lower network proximity, higher topic diversity and higher influence than his/her target scholar relatively. Finally, we cluster all collaborators via Self Organizing Maps and identify the serendipitous collaborator class according to the classes divided in our RUVMod. We apply our definition to the scientific collaborators extracted from DBLP dataset. The evaluation from the serendipity-based metrics suggests that RUVMod is effective in identifying serendipitous scientific collaborators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8733106
Pages (from-to)574-589
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Big Data
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • classification model
  • scholarly big data
  • serendipitous collaborators
  • Serendipity in science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management


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