Collaboration in Science and in Technology:
Foundation of a Global Interdisciplinary Research Network (COLLNET) with Berlin as the Virtual Center

Hildrun Kretschmer
(Berlin, Germany)

Liming Liang
(Xinxiang, China)

Ramesh Kundra
(New Delhi, India)

The Foundation of a Global Interdisciplinary Research Network with Berlin as the Virtual Center

The rise in collaboration in science and technology experienced world-wide at national and international level, has assumed such an overriding importance that there is now an urgent need perceptible to study such processes with a view to acquiring fundamental knowledge for organizing future research and its application to science and technology policies. The last few years have seen an ascendancy in how to treat these international issues. However, this trend has still failed to provide a concept on a fundamental and interrelated theory regarding the theme entitled ´Collaboration in science and in technology´. The different approaches taken so far have revealed the shortcomings of integration. By all accounts, this field of research is required to be a comprehensive and diversified area ranging from small-group research in social psychology/sociology to large network analyses conducted into international co-authorship or citation networks, including the concomitant observation of informal communication via interviews or interrogative surveys on bibliometrical analyses. On account of the diversity of these issues it is possible to obtain promising results only against the backdrop of an interdisciplinary approach and from an intercultural viewpoint.
The growing importance of collaboration in research and the still underdeveloped state-of-the-art of research on collaboration have encouraged us to establish a global interdisciplinary research network under the title

´Collaboration in Science and in Technology´

(COLLNET) with Berlin as its virtual center which has been set up on January 1st, 2000, under the authorship of Hildrun Kretschmer in her capacity as co-ordinator.
The network is to comprise the prominent scientists, who work at present mostly in the field of quantitative science studies, coming from 16 countries of America, Asia, Australia and Europe. Our intention is to work together in co-operation both on theoretical and applied aspects.

The 16 CountriesThe 16 Countries

How COLLNET Emerged - The History of COLLNET
The ´4th International Conference on Bibliometrics, Informetrics and Scientometrics´ (hereinafter called: ´International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics´) held in Berlin in September 1993 as well as ´International Society for Scientometrics and Infomerics (I.S.S.I.) founded in relation to the conference have substantially contributed toward broadening international collaboration in this field.
Out of the great number of collaborations only those should be especially mentioned that turned out to be instrumental in providing the groundwork for the foundation of COLLNET.

The Technology Foundation Utrecht (STW), The Netherlands, can be mentioned as a primary source, making it possible to conduct basic research for several months at the Center for Science Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University, The Netherlands, on the subject ´Collaboration in Science´.

The National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), New Delhi, India, was the successor of the Technology Foundation. It was here in India that the first international joint research projects were started with several publications that meanwhile, have appeared in Indian-German co-authorship.

The Institute of Science, Technology and Society, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, China, has made it possible to prepare additional collaboration.

The thus resultant Chinese- German and Indian-German projects on the related subjects ´Collaboration in Science´ are currently supported by the DFG, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Indian National Science Academy.

The collaboration partners from China (authoress Liming Liang) and from India (author Ramesh Kundra) were staying in Berlin in September 1999 for one month and, as a result of intensive discussions during their stay, it was suggested that, due to the increasing global significance of above subjects, Chinese-Indian-German collaboration relations should be expanded world-wide in an attempt to establish a global interdisciplinary research network or collaboration network (COLLNET) in Berlin with its virtual center.

The German scientists Frank Havemann and Roland Wagner-Dobler have, in these discussions, made valuable contributions along with Hildrun Kretschmer´s husband Karl-Theo Kretschmer.

The visit and the lecture by Mohsin Khan (NISTADS), an Indian technology expert, in Berlin in November 1999, had once again reaffirmed the suggestions made already in September that the range of themes should be broadened to be included in ´Collaboration in Science and in Technology´.

Proceeding from the sponsorship provided by the Free University Berlin and by the DFG in the interest of the First Berlin Workshop on Scientometrics and Informetrics/Collaboration in Science, August 1998, Berlin, the idea was considered of holding this Workshop in the future after every two years. This first Workshop was successfully organized by the Gesellschaft fuer Wissenschaftsforschung e.V. Berlin (Association for Science Studies e.V. Berlin).

Thus, in due course, the First COLLNET Meeting will be held at the Free University Berlin in September 2000 together with the Second Berlin Workshop on Scientometrics and Informetrics/Collaboration in Science and in Technology.

In reality, it took only four months of time measured from the first idea that came up in September 1999 to set up a global interdisciplinary research network up to the informal establishment of COLLNET on January 1st , 2000, and it took not more than one year until its first meeting was held. The brevity of this period of time is attributable to the new technology, i.e. to Internet. Week after week, the students of a seminar at FU (Free University Berlin) were able to perceive the development undergone by COLLNET thanks to e-mail. This resulted in the fact that Gisela Look, one of the students, had suggested to ALTUS Media AG that it should sponsor both the Web Site and the Webcasting of the Second Berlin Workshop.

Several Scientific Results of Collaboration that Provided the Impetus for the Foundation of COLLNET Authoress Hildrun Kretschmer had addressed the question of the theoretical treatment of the theme ´Collaboration in Science and in Technology´ and she had developed her collaboration model (Kretschmer 1999).
This collaboration model was applied to the co-authorship network of Indian medicine that was provided by the author Ramesh Kundra with the aim of being able to observe changes in structure over a period of 30 years (Kundra and Kretschmer 1999).
The idea of the authoress Liming Liang on her ´Distribution of Major Scientific and Cultural Achievements in Terms of Age´ (Liang 1999) was put in relation to the collaboration model by Hildrun Kretschmer.

The discussions held between the tree authors in September 1999 gave rise to the suggestions of having in future a joint Chinese-Indian-German project and, when elaborating on this issue, to the establishment of COLLNET.

In theory, the model by Hildrun Kretschmer is poised to address questions on the existence of general structural laws in nature and society together with questions on the evolution of behaviour, beginning with higher species of vertebrates. Several aspects of application, among other things, refer also to the acquisition of knowledge on the general structure relating to transmissions of diseases, propagation of epidemics, or information transfer.

The theoretical model newly developed by Hildrun Kretschmer is one of the few examples in social psychology and sociology which is capable

  • of visualizing several millions of empirical data as GESTALT (i.e. structure, holistic pattern) in 3-dimensional space and, by analogy to the growth of plants, is able by way of computer animation to portray the growth and the changes of such a GESTALT
  • of portraying the almost true-to-nature reality even in the event of an increasing amount of data. Based on an example contained currently in a pre-print manuscript it was possible to indicate that this model could retain its validity even beyond the scope of co-authorship networks and, even more, beyond the border of scientists´ communities in this line.

This model is intended to suggest that interactions between a large number of individual persons or groups of persons could be mirrored in the form of a well-structured three-dimensional GESTALT in dependence upon the characteristics of these individual persons or groups of persons.

Examples of interactions are co-operation, friendships, marriages, etc., while examples of characteristics are age, labour productivity, education, professional status, etc.

According to GESTALT Theory, the idea of GESTALT has to be perceived as a system, the individual parts of which are dynamically intertwined in a way that the transformation of one constituent part proceeds along the transformations of all the other parts. Thus the well-structured pattern of the whole (GESTALT) exerts influence on what will happen to its individual components. Definitions on GESTALT in varying forms of wording have been advanced by a number of scientists, among them by the famous scientists WERTHEIMER, LEWIN, KOEHLER or METZGER.

Wolfgang Metzger, already several decades ago, conjectured that well- structured patterns, beginning with higher-species of vertebrates, had existed in social groups, but he was unable to provide any conclusive evidence at that time (Metzger 1986).

A force that emanates from the well-structured pattern of the whole (GESTALT) acts on the individual components of this whole (Top down).
Even if, in social and other systems, this force fails to determine completely an individual component part in terms of the predictability of this individual component, this force, nevertheless, generates a statistically balanced evenness among all the individual components in their totality in the sense of a well-structured pattern (GESTALT), suggesting that the GESTALT will become predictable within a very high margin of probability. Therefore, the GESTALT is mathematically describable.

In order to illustrate the latter, reference shall be made to the joint study conducted by Liming Liang and Hildrun Kretschmer in April 2000. This study is concerned with the most outstanding achievements made by scientists and artists, which have been accomplished in collaboration since the middle of the 17th century and recorded in the ´THE TIMETABLES OF SCIENCE´ and in ´THE TIMETABLES OF HISTORY´ (Both published by Simon & Schuster Press). In accordance with a former suggestion by Liming Liang these famous personalities were grouped according to their age at the time of their great performances.

Afterwards it was counted how frequently the personalities from different age groups had jointly accomplished great achievements, so that the relative measure of interactions (called here: homophylic index) was calculated as a ratio between the observed to the statistically expected values on the condition that the joint collaboration was independent of the age, cf. Table 1.
(Note: Only those famous personalities have been taken from above indicated books and included in this calculation, whose age was registered in the books. Therefore, this study has to be completed in the future).

Table 1: Interactions in Major Scientific and Technical Achievements and Interactions in History 1654-1994

X,Y - Age (1: 21-30, 2: 31-40, 3: 41-50, 4: 51-60, 5: 61-70)

Interactions Observed values
X/Y 1 2 3 4 5
1 34 25 8 2 1
2 25 46 46 12 2
3 8 46 44 20 11
4 2 12 20 32 23
5 1 2 11 23 30

Homophylic Index
Relative Values = Observed Values/Statistical Expected Values
X/Y 1 2 3 4 5
1 8.69 2.58 0.67 0.27 0.25
2 2.58 1.91 1.56 0.64 0.20
3 0.67 1.56 1.21 0.87 0.90
4 0.27 0.64 0.87 2.22 3.00
5 0.25 0.20 0.90 3.00 7.33

There is a wide range of reasons for addressing individual cases, i.e. how is it explainable that especially the two scientists Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, almost of identical age, had jointly succeeded in discovering protactinium and uranium, or why the 31-year-old Pascal and the 53-year-old de Fermat had jointly provided the foundations for the probability calculus. Every collaboration has its own history, even books had been written about many of them , for instance about the 25-year-old Watson and the 37-year-old Crick who jointly succeeded in determining the exact build-up of DNA.

In spite of the popular acclaim and the specific aspects relating to individual events the force of the well-structured GESTALT for the whole has demonstrably generated a statistically balanced evenness for the individual events, indicating that a mathematically describable GESTALT can be envisioned, cf. Fig 1. (The homophylic indices have to be plotted on the third dimension of the figure. One can follow this process starting with the left figure in the first row followed by the right one, etc.)

The non-linear mathematical function on the description of such GESTALT was published by Kretschmer in 1999. These GESTALTS of social systems are methodologically invariant. They are relatively independent of the type of personality characteristics and of the type of interactions, cf. Fig. 2. There is a number of definite prototypes among these GESTALTS that can be generated by changing the four parameters of the non-linear function (Kretschmer 2000). Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 are related to one of the 5 prototypes. Upon modifying the conditions of the social system it is possible in the course of time to transform the GESTALTS from one of the prototypes to another one.

An example for changing GESTALT from one of the prototypes to another one could be shown by Ramesh Kundra and Hildrun Kretschmer when studying the co-authorship network of Indian medicine in the course of about 30 years, cf. animation.

Animation 1Animation 1
Animation 2Animation 2
Figure 1Figure 1
Figure 2Figure 2

Note: In case you cannot view the animations you need to download a realplayer (The "RealPlayer 8 Basic" is free of charge and is found at the bottom of the - page):

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1. Kretschmer, H. (1999): A New Model of Scientific Collaboration. Part I: Types of Two- Dimensional and Three-Dimensional Collaboration Patterns. SCIENTOMETRICS. Vol.46.No.3. 501-518
2. Kretschmer, H. (2000, In Chinese): Configurations in International Co-authorship Networks. In: Evaluation and its Indicators. Edited by G. Jiang. Hongqi Publishing House, Beijing, 95-116
3. Kundra R. and H. Kretschmer (1999): A New Model of Scientific Collaboration. Part II: Collaboration Patterns in Indian Medicine. SCIENTOMETRICS. Vol.46. No.3 519-528
4. Liang, L., Wu Y., Ding, F. and Wang, Y. (1999): New Developments in the Study of Distribution of Major Scientific and Cultural Achievements in Terms of Age. In: Proceedings of the Seventh Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics, Colima 1999, Edited by C.A. Macias-Chapula, Colima, Mexico. 286-293
5. Metzger, W. (1986): Gestalt-Psychologie. Ausgewählte Werke aus den Jahren 1950 bis 1982 herausgegeben und eingeleitet von Michael Stadler und Heinrich Crabus. Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Waldemar Kramer

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