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Research performance and degree centrality in co-authorship networks: The moderating role of homophily

Kamal Badar (University of Balochistan, Quetta, Pakistan)
Terrill L. Frantz (Peking University HSBC Business School, Shenzhen, China)
Munazza Jabeen (University of Balochistan, Quetta, Pakistan)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 21 November 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of the relationship between a scholar’s research performance (using weighted journal-impact factor average) and their degree centrality; the impact of author-homophily (in terms of gender, institutional sector, academic age, academic ranks, province and city) on this relationship is investigated as well.

Design/methodology/approach

Using scientific publishing data and journal-impact factors from Thomson Reuters’ ISI Web of Science (SCI) and Journal Citation Reports, respectively, the domestic co-authorship network of chemistry researchers in Pakistan during 2002-2009 was constructed then modeled via ordinary least squares regression.

Findings

Results show that the personal characteristics of a researcher do not necessarily lead to high degree centrality, i.e. attributes may not be causal to co-author relationships. Instead, high degree centrality is more so a function of the forerunning research performance of the researcher: those whom publish more in terms of impact factor, attract more co-authors (high degree centrality). Moreover, the relationship between research performance and degree centrality is positively moderated by age and province homophily and negatively moderated by city homophily.

Research limitations/implications

Data are sourced wholly from the Pakistani chemistry research community; results many not be generalizable to other sub-populations or the wider research community.

Practical implications

The findings provide insights to performance-seeking authors: knowing that their research performance enhances their centrality, which in-turn may lead to increased research performance and various other desirable professional outcomes. In addition, researchers can look toward establishing similar (homophilous) or dissimilar (heterophilous) ties knowing that the relationship between research performance and centrality will likely be stronger when similarity or dissimilarity exists.

Social implications

This study supports the idea that high research performance attracts more potential co-authors, which in-turn may lead to ever greater research performance, which suggests that the research community will be fragmented between high- and low-performing researchers. Also researcher will have similar or dissimilar ties in terms of various characteristics which in turn moderate the research performance centrality relationship.

Originality/value

This paper counteracts the empirical belief that researchers are attractive as potential co-authors according to their personal and professional characteristics. It is actually their research performance and homophily or heterophily of their ties which matters.

Keywords

Citation

Badar, K., Frantz, T.L. and Jabeen, M. (2016), "Research performance and degree centrality in co-authorship networks: The moderating role of homophily", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 68 No. 6, pp. 756-771. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-07-2016-0103

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited