Arnaud Duhoux

Spring

Evaluating Academic Research Networks

Authors:
Pages:
69-89

Funding agencies and universities are increasingly searching for effective ways to support and strengthen a dynamic and competitive scientific research capacity. Many of their funding policies are based on the hypothesis that increased collaboration and networking between researchers and between institutions lead to improved scientific productivity. Although many studies have found positive correlations between academic collaborations and research performance, it is less clear how formal institutional networks contribute to this effect. Using social network analysis (SNA) methods, we highlight the distinction between what we define as “formal” institutional research networks and “organic” researcher networks. We also analyze the association between researchers’ actual structural position in such networks and their scientific performance. The data used come from curriculum vitae information of 125 researchers in two provincially funded research networks in Quebec, Canada. Our findings confirm a positive correlation between collaborations and research productivity. We also demonstrate that collaborations within the formal networks in our study constitute a relatively small component of the underlying organic network of collaborations. These findings contribute to the literature on evaluating policies and programs that pertain to institutional research networks and should stimulate research on the capacity of such networks to foster research productivity.