In the fourth research age, collaboration networks mark the production of knowledge. The research networks connect people and their works supported by the resources of information and communication technologies, © The Author(s) 2017
D. Leite, I. Pinho, Evaluating Collaboration Networks in Higher Education Research, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-45225-8_2
markedly those that make use of the Internet. In principle, in the international scientist community, coauthorships in publications are stimulated so that discoveries are fueled by the interdisciplinarity put in its reach. The connectivity of networks constitutes the virtual operative that links individuals and their knowledge, providing a cohesive strength that adequately supports the accumulation and expansion of knowledge (Adams, 2012; Leung, 2013).
In underdeveloped places and countries, such as can be seen in the geography of science, the research development is uneven among the nations. However, among the researchers of some countries and areas of knowledge, a “fluorescent” research development through networks is visible (Van Noorden, 2014). Nevertheless, we must reflect that, if the research development is uneven, it is highly probable that research and collaboration networks work at diverse spaces, especially if we take the disciplinary areas of knowledge into account.
Focus on the great knowledge area of Humanities and Social Sciences into consideration, we find twice as many reasons to think that there are major inequalities, still latent, not only in the development of researchers but in the creation and expansion of networks as well. There are inequalities and precariousness in the incentives for the professionalization of researchers, which makes them different from researchers of diverse latitude regions. Beyond the problem of incentives and rewards, understood as part of the politics of each country’s science and technology (S&T) system, we find a difficult and restricted access to intangible assets that favor the production of knowledge.
The researchers can have precarious access to international bibliographic sources. Support and assistance flaws on the part of national S&T and research and development (R&D) systems, difficulties faced by the researchers themselves to write and publish in English, science’s “lingua franca.” Even if they carry out upper echelon researchers, the possibilities of publishing their works in internationally renowned journals are slimmer or reduced (Bortolus, 2012). Then they are left with publishing their extensive, rhetoric, and, for some, verbose articles in national magazines. Such procedure, in relation to other scientific areas, creates a gap in recognition and authority. There are reasons to suppose that, even if in general terms a blossoming of networks is mentioned, this is not a part of the reality of the production of knowledge, for example, in Education. That is, the excess of academic appointments the social sciences researcher must meet in a contemporaneous university provides both contradictions and challenges. This also happens with the precariousness of practices including the difficulties in obtaining access to conventional knowledge production sources, such as the matrices of knowledge previously produced and released, besides, of course, the infrastructural work conditions.
In this context, how can we, people from emerging or newer (under?) developing countries, even think of production in networks keeping up with the most recent age of international research? Then we will address some issues that may give clues to answer this question.