Multi-university research teams: shifting impact, geography, and stratification in science

Science. 2008 Nov 21;322(5905):1259-62. doi: 10.1126/science.1158357. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


This paper demonstrates that teamwork in science increasingly spans university boundaries, a dramatic shift in knowledge production that generalizes across virtually all fields of science, engineering, and social science. Moreover, elite universities play a dominant role in this shift. By examining 4.2 million papers published over three decades, we found that multi-university collaborations (i) are the fastest growing type of authorship structure, (ii) produce the highest-impact papers when they include a top-tier university, and (iii) are increasingly stratified by in-group university rank. Despite the rising frequency of research that crosses university boundaries, the intensification of social stratification in multi-university collaborations suggests a concentration of the production of scientific knowledge in fewer rather than more centers of high-impact science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't