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What Do Researchers Say About Networking?

Top researchers, at the highest CNPq level in Brazil and from FCT Excellence Centers1 in Portugal, belonging to the disciplinary fields of Physics, Production Engineering Education, and Social Sciences and © The Author(s) 2017

D. Leite, I. Pinho, Evaluating Collaboration Networks in Higher Education Research, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-45225-8_4

Humanities, answered questions about research groups and networks. The main goal of the research was to understand the way they are producing knowledge in their field and the way they are publishing and networking as leaders of research groups and collaborative nets. Before interviewing them, we made a study of their public curricula.2 We scrutinized articles, book chapters, and books published in 10 years by each researcher. The data were processed in Microsoft BibExcel and Pajek (De Nooy et al., 2005). The methodology including networks analysis tools (Carolan, 2014) was first described in other works (Leite, 2014; Leite et al., 2014b; Leite and Lima, 2012). We showed the resulting coauthorship graphs to each interviewed researcher so they should visualize their own networks.

One of the working hypotheses was that by leading a research group with at least 10 years old, the researcher would have established a coauthorship network (Leite et al., 2014b) and would inform us about the way group members have collaborated or not. Notice that, besides employing an intentional mix of quantitative (scientometry, bibliometry) and qualitative (content analysis) methodological procedures, we wished to listen from them the very secret of how to do a better work in science. Understanding that science is a human, social, and educational project, we expected to listen to a speech about the goodness, the beautifulness of research collaboration. But this was not exactly what we got. Not at all for each researcher from each specific knowledge field and country.

The material presented in this chapter draws on empirical research conducted in a semistructured form of an interview with researchers. Interview procedures began by presenting the respondents their coauthorship graphs in which it was possible to view their production network in articles, chapters, and books. Next we placed the first question about how they formed their research networks, as well as about their constitution at that moment. In general, for the respondents, the two main concepts (research group and research network) were synonymous.

Some of the researchers were surprised to see their production in graphs. They said not to imagine viewing their networks. Some of the researchers had so many publications that a single graph could not clearly record them in a single figure. Notice that among the researchers selected, there were execellence researchers (seniors or terminators) who had, at the time, more than 150 papers in 10 years raised publications!

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