Inderscience Publishers

Collaboration, creativity and rewards: why and how scientists collaborate

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Experimental research has become a collective enterprise that closely intertwines creative and routine processes. So far, these basic properties of research - the classic property creativity and the new property of being conducted collaboratively - have been studied only separately. However, to understand the ongoing changes, it is necessary to develop an integrated perspective. The aim of this article is to show how creative processes are integrated in collaborative research both within and between research groups, and how creativity is rewarded by the scientific community. Based upon an empirical study of 57 German research groups at universities and nonuniversity research institutes and their more than 300 collaborations, different forms and types of collaboration can be distinguished that are caused by a vertical and a horizontal specialisation of research. Vertical specialisation within research groups leads to a division of labour between the leader and the members of the group. The group leader's work requires theoretical creativity, i.e., the ability to create research problems and to integrate results. Group members who mainly conduct experimental research need (and develop) methodological-technical creativity. Horizontal specialisation between research groups may cause five types of collaboration that can be distinguished with regard to the distribution of creativity between the partners. Consequently, the way of rewarding collaborative contributions (co-authorship rules etc) varies between these types. The empirical analysis of research collaborations enables some predictions regarding the question as to whether individual careers become hindered by the increasing collaborative character of research.

Keywords: scientific creativity, research collaboration, co-authorship, scientific careers

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