, Volume 100, Issue 1, pp 173–188 | Cite as

The scientific impact and partner selection in collaborative research at Korean universities

  • Jongwuk Ahn
  • Dong-hyun Oh
  • Jeong-Dong Lee


This study seeks to bridge the gap between scientometrics literature on scientific collaboration and science and technology management literature on partner selection by linking scientists’ collaborator preferences to the marginal advantage in citation impact. The 1981–2010 South Korea NCR (National Citation Report), a subset of the Web of Science that includes 297,658 scholarly articles, was used for this research. We found that, during this period, multi-author scientific articles increasingly dominated single-author articles: multi-university collaboration grew significantly; and the numbers of research publications produced by teams working within a single institution or by a single author diminished. This study also demonstrated that multi-university collaboration produces higher-impact articles when it includes “Research Universities,” that is, top-tier university schools. We also found that elite universities experienced impact degradation of their scientific results when they collaborated with lower-tier institutions, whereas their lower-tier partners gained impact benefits from the collaboration. Finally, our research revealed that Korean universities are unlikely to work with other universities in the same tier. This propensity for cross-tier collaboration can be interpreted as strategic partner selection by lower-tier schools seeking marginal advantage in citation impact.


Knowledge production Scientific collaboration Multi-university research Citation impact Partner selection 

JEL Classification

C81 D74 D83 I23 N75 



This research was jointly supported by: Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (2012R1A1A1013071); the BK21 PLUS through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education; ICT R&D Program 2013 funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning; and MOT Graduate School Program through the Korea Institute for the Advancement of Technology (KIAT) funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technology Management, Economics, and Policy ProgramSeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of Industrial EngineeringInha UniversityInchonKorea

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