SCISIPBIO: Invisible Collaborators: Underrepresentation, Research Networks, and Outcomes of Biomedical Researchers

Data & Methods

Project Summary

What do the teams that produce science and the networks in which they are included look like? How is credit allocated within them? Previously, analyses performed using co-authorship data have largely shaped our knowledge of these topics. . However, not all people who make important contributions to research projects appear as coauthors on all articles and some author positions are more prestigious than other positions. Evidence suggests that women and members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are disadvantaged in terms of author position. The same is likely true for research staff.

This project combines UMETRICS data covering over 23 million payroll transactions to over 175 thousand people paid on NIH projects at 31 universities which accounts for over one-third of federally funded, academic R&D with Torvik and Smalheiser’s updated Author-ity database of publications by biomedical researchers. The combined data allow us to analyze scientific collaboration networks, as distinct from coauthorships, and shed new light on relatively marginal populations in biomedicine. The interdisciplinary team combines emerging and established scholars and has successfully developed, analyzed, and distributed both datasets.

We will describe the composition of the teams and networks supported on research projects, answering questions such as: How large are the teams that actually conduct research? What factors relate to the size of teams? What types of people work on them in terms of gender, race, ethnicity and age, and in what capacities? How are each of them positioned in collaboration networks? We further study the association of researchers’ characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, and job title to the credit that they receive for their work. Lastly, we will study how these relationships depend on the gender, race, ethnicity, and age of the Principal Investigator (PI) and on funding mechanisms — for example, whether women and younger PIs are more inclusive and egalitarian than men or if some mechanisms are better in terms of inclusion. These questions are increasingly urgent as scientific teams expand but require information on who actually works on research projects beyond data on authorship alone.


Jason D Owen-Smith

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