Research funding goes to rich clubs
Published on Dec 1, 2015in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America9.58
· DOI :10.1073/pnas.1520118112
Science is an enterprise driven fundamentally by social relations and dynamics (1). Thanks to comprehensive bibliometric datasets on scientific production and the development of new tools in network science in the past decade, traces of these relations can now be analyzed in the form of citation and coauthorship networks, shedding light on the complex structure of scientific collaboration patterns (2, 3), on reputation effects (4), and even on the development of entire fields (5, 6). What about funding, however? How do the available funding options influence with whom we collaborate? Are there elite institutions that get more than others? Additionally, how is the funding landscape changing? In PNAS, Ma et al. (7) explore a dataset of 43,000 projects funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, a major government body of research funding in the United Kingdom, offering a unique perspective on these questions. In a longitudinal data analysis covering three decades, Ma et al. (7) shed light into the relations between funding landscapes and scientific collaborations. The study finds increasing inequality over time on two levels: First, an elite circle of academic institutions tends to overattract funding, and, second, the very same institutions prefer to collaborate with each other.