Understanding the existing and emerging trends in global research collaboration – as it happens

This post is based on my introduction to the recent report on The Connected Culture of Collaboration [1], published in March 2017 by Overleaf and Digital Science and featuring a combination of data analysis and curated pieces.

Collaboration Network Animation

Visualizing the network of real-time collaboration in The Connected Culture of Collaboration report.

As a species, we are naturally drawn to form communities and social groups, building up our wider ‘family’ of friends and co-workers. Indeed, this need is so ingrained that the effects of isolation on the human psyche have shown that we humans are “dramatically affected by perceived social isolation” [2], and that it “is a risk factor for, and may contribute to, poorer overall cognitive performance, faster cognitive decline” and many other negative traits. In other words, it’s important not to be isolated.

One might imagine that in a world where vast numbers of the population are connected through both social media channels and the widespread adoption of mobile phones to replace traditional communications infrastructure, this wouldn’t be a problem. However, studies have shown an increase in social isolation corresponding to this increased connectedness [3], and the precise details of the relationship still under much active research [4].

As researchers, we form lasting mentor-apprentice relationships throughout our early career; beginning as the apprentice and moving on to mentoring as we develop our skills and experience. I expect we can all name our early mentors and our first apprentices. But how do our wider collaborations – especially the larger projects that span national and international boundaries – fit into this community picture? This is not a simple question to answer, and is beyond the scope of our initial report, but one that is important as global collaborations continue to grow and our research connections correspondingly move to the international stage.

The following gives an overview of the four articles in the full report, which is freely available online via figshare.

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