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How Far can Scholarly Networks Go? Examining the Relationships between Distance, Disciplines, Motivations, and Clusters

Communication and Information Technologies Annual

ISBN: 978-1-78441-454-2, eISBN: 978-1-78441-453-5

Publication date: 30 January 2015


This study aims to understand the extent to which scholarly networks are connected both in person and through information and communication technologies, and in particular, how distance, disciplines, and motivations for participating in these networks interplay with the clusters they form. The focal point for our analysis is the Graphics, Animation and New Media Network of Centres of Excellence (GRAND NCE), a Canadian scholarly network in which scholars collaborate across disciplinary, institutional, and geographical boundaries in one or multiple projects with the aid of information and communication technologies. To understand the complexity in such networks, we first identified scholars’ clusters within the work, want-to-meet, and help networks of GRAND and examined the correlation between these clusters as well as with disciplines and geographic locations. We then identified three types of motivation that drove scholars to join GRAND: practical issues, novelty-exploration, and networking. Our findings indicate that (1) scholars’ interests in the networking opportunities provided by GRAND may not easily translate into actual interactions. Although scholars express interests in boundary-spanning collaborations, these mostly occur within the same discipline and geographic area. (2) Some motivations are reflected in the structural characteristics of the clusters we identify, while others are irrelevant to the establishment of collaborative ties. We argue that institutional intervention may be used to enhance geographically dispersed, multidisciplinary collaboration.




This work is supported by the ENOW project of the Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND) Network of Centers of Excellence. We wish to thank our collaborators in the NAVEL project, Dimitrina Dimitrova and Anatoliy Gruzd, and to those who helped with coding and transcribing. We express our appreciation to Christian Beermann for his help with editing. We dedicate this paper to Joanna Li, born in the midst of our research and writing.


Mo, G.Y., Hayat, Z. and Wellman, B. (2015), "How Far can Scholarly Networks Go? Examining the Relationships between Distance, Disciplines, Motivations, and Clusters", Communication and Information Technologies Annual (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 107-133.



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