“Single man in a field is not a warrior” is a Russian proverb that has proved to be true when it comes to science research according to Brian Uzzi and colleagues from Northwestern Institute on Complexity that authored “The Increasing Dominance of Teams in Production of Knowledge” published in the May 18th issue of “Science” (vol 316, p. 1036).
Scientists examined almost 20 million research papers published in the last 50 years as well as more than 2 million patents and established that teams of scientists are increasingly dominating solo authors in the production of knowledge and that research is increasingly done in teams across almost all fields.
According to their findings, teams produce more frequently cited research than individuals, the numbers are increasing over time and almost doubled in 45 years in 170 fields of science and engineering. The mean team size has also grown from 1.8 to 3.6 in fields of science.
Scientists also analyzed the impact of team research work on science by measuring the number of citations each paper and patent received. Highly cited work was defined as receiving more than the mean number of citations for given field and year. It turned out that teams produce more highly cited work in each broad area of research and at each point in time.
These results are suggesting that the process of how knowledge is created has fundamentally changed, it has shifted from individual based model to a collaborative, team based model.
Supporting Materials can be found here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1136099/DC1