A Bibliometric Analysis of Co-authorship Patterns of Eleven East Central European Countries in the 90s

by Wolfgang Glšnzel

Bibliometrics Service, Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences,
P.O.B. 1002, H-1245 Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36-20-3329654
e-mail: h4324gla@ella.hu, wglanzel@mail.matav.hu


1. Introduction

International scientific collaboration has proved very sensitive to political and economic changes. Collaboration in research is expected to be reflected by the corresponding co-authorship of published results which can be analysed by means of bibliometric methods. In this context, both strong mutual links and specific unidirectional 'affinities' of the selected countries for co-authorship with other countries are of special interest.

The main objective of this study is the elaboration of national characteristics in international scientific co-authorship and the analysis of their changes in EIT countries in the East Central European region (ECE). An attempt is made to monitor and map the development and changes in co-publication links, in the relation between international co-authorship and in the characteristics of both, national research profiles and citation impact.

2. Methods

The study is based on papers published in 1995 and 1996, and citations received by them in the 1995-1997 and 1996-1998 period, respectively. Bibliographic raw data used for the analysis have been extracted from Science Citation Index. Subject classification of publications was based on the field assignment of journals according to the eight major fields of science: Clinical medicine, Biomedical research, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering and Earth and space sciences. For the present study, the following eleven countries have been taken into consideration: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Bibliometric indicators were used to measure the share of internationally co-authored publications in the national total as well as the strength of co-publication links between countries. The latter measure allows mapping of 'symmetric' links. 'Asymmetry' in co-authorship links can be found using rank distributions of the share of 'partner countries' in all international papers and their corresponding share in the world total.

The comparison of the profiles of 'domestic' and 'internationally co-authored' publications defined on the basis of eight major fields was used to analyse deviating relative specialisation in international collaboration. Publication profiles were normalised to compensate the influence of extensive international collaboration in certain fields, for instance, in physics.

Finally, the citation frequency distributions of domestic and internationally co-authored papers in selected country were compared, and a relative citation measure was used to measure the 'attractivity' of international co-publications of countries and country pairs compared with the corresponding expected and domestic citation rates.

3. Results
The most obvious result concerns the large share of internationally co-authored papers of several ECE countries. The share of international co-publications in the national total of all countries under study exceeds 40%, in some cases even 50%.

Co-publication maps for 1995/96 reveal structural changes in international co-authorship links in the last decade. Besides stable links and coherent clusters, also new nodes and links have been found. The ECE countries have successfully reintegrated into the international scientific system. As expected, an increasing scientific collaboration with highly developed countries, first of all with Germany and the USA, can be observed in the 90s. However, traditional geopolitical ties still play an important part in several ECE countries. Not all links between individual countries are symmetric. Specific (unidirectional) co-authorship affinity could also be detected in several countries. In general, four basis types could be distinguished in the relative specialisation of domestic and internationally co-authored publications:

  • no significant deviation between the two profiles in the country,
  • increase of national characteristics through international co-publications,
  • weakened national characteristics in international papers,
  • extreme deviation between the two profiles.

Although international co-authorship, at an average, results in publications with higher citation rates than domestic papers, the influence of international collaboration on the national citation impact varies among the countries (and within one individual country among the fields). In some cases, collaboration seems, at least from the viewpoint of citation indicators, not to pay for one or even either partner.

4. Conclusions

The international collaboration patterns of ECE countries in the 90s reflect spectacular changes, a reorientation in research policy and a reintegration into the international scientific system. Nevertheless, the traditional geopolitical ties still play an important part in several ECE countries and the typical "socialist" research profiles with predominant natural sciences is still characteristic for most of the selected countries.

The analysis of the share of international co-publications, of their publication profiles and of specific co-authorship affinities allows the conclusion that international collaboration might in part be used to compensate lacking research facilities in the own countries.

The deviation between the citation distribution of "international" and "domestic" papers in several countries and several fields proved to be considerable in favour of the international co-publications. Nevertheless, the citation impact of internationally co-authored papers in some countries, especially in chemistry, remains by far below the international standard.

Finally, the question, in how far the large share of international co-publications in some countries can be interpreted in terms of migration, and might therefore reflect some undesired tendencies as well, must be raised.

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