, Volume 106, Issue 2, pp 509–524 | Cite as

The first cut is the deepest: repeated interactions of coauthorship and academic productivity in Nobel laureate teams

  • Ho Fai Chan
  • Ali Sina Önder
  • Benno Torgler


Despite much in-depth investigation of factors influencing the coauthorship evolution in various scientific fields, our knowledge about how efficiency or creativity is linked to the longevity of collaborative relationships remains very limited. We explore what Nobel laureates’ coauthorship patterns reveal about the nature of scientific collaborations looking at the intensity and success of scientific collaborations across fields and across laureates’ collaborative lifecycles in physics, chemistry, and physiology/medicine. We find that more collaboration with the same researcher is actually no better for advancing creativity: publications produced early in a sequence of repeated collaborations with a given coauthor tend to be published better and cited more than papers that come later in the collaboration with the same coauthor. Our results indicate that scientific collaboration involves conceptual complementarities that may erode over a sequence of repeated interactions.


Innovation Scientific collaboration Team formation Nobel laureates 



For advice and suggestions, thanks are due to two anonymous referees. We acknowledge financial support from the Australian Research Council (FT110100463).


  1. Adams, J. D., Black, G. C., Clemmons, J. R., & Stephan, P. E. (2005). Scientific teams and institutional collaborations: Evidence from U.S. universities, 1981–1999. Research Policy, 34, 259–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biswal, A. K. (2013). An absolute index (Ab-index) to measure a researcher’s useful contributions and productivity. PLoS ONE, 8(12), e84334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chan, H. F., Önder, A. S., & Torgler, B. (2015). Do Nobel laureates change their patterns of collaboration following the prize reception? Scientometrics, 105(3), 2215–2235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cronin, B. (2001). Hyperauthorship: A postmodern perversion or evidence of a structural shift in scholarly communication practices? Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 52(7), 558–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Greene, M. (2007). The demise of the lone author. Nature, 450, 1165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Guimera, R., Uzzi, B., Spiro, J., & Amaral, L. A. N. (2005). Team assembly mechanisms determine collaboration network structure and team performance. Science, 308, 697–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hollis, A. (2001). Co-authorship and the output of academic economists. Labour Economics, 8(4), 503–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Katz, J. S., & Martin, B. R. (1997). What is research collaboration? Research Policy, 26, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Milojević, S. (2014). Principles of scientific research team formation and evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111, 3984–3989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Newman, M. E. J. (2004). Who is the best connected scientist? A study of scientific coauthorship networks. In E. Ben-Naim, H. Frauenfelder, & Z. Toroczkai (Eds.), Complex networks (pp. 337–370). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Stallings, J., Vance, E., Yang, J., Vannier, M. W., Liang, J., Pang, L., et al. (2013). Determining scientific impact using a collaboration index. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110, 9680–9685.MATHMathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Uzzi, B., Mukherjee, S., Stringer, M., & Jones, B. (2013). Atypical combinations and scientific impact. Science, 342, 468–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Whitfield, J. (2008). Group theory. Nature, 455, 720–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316, 1036–1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Zuckerman, H. (1996). Scientific Elite: Nobel laureates in the united states. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ho Fai Chan
    • 1
  • Ali Sina Önder
    • 2
  • Benno Torgler
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Queensland Behavioural Economics Group (QuBE), School of Economics and FinanceQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  3. 3.Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA)ZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations