Evaluating a European knowledge hub on climate change in agricultureAre we building a better connected community?

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1074
Number of pages18
JournalScientometrics
Volume109
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jul 2016
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2016
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Abstract

In order to maintain food security and sustainability of production under climate change, interdisciplinary and international collaboration in research is essential. In the EU, knowledge hubs are important funding instruments for the development of an interconnected European Research Area. Here, network analysis was used to assess whether the pilot knowledge hub MACSUR has affected interdisciplinary collaboration, using co-authorship of peer reviewed articles as a measure of collaboration. The broad community of all authors identified as active in the field of agriculture and climate change was increasingly well connected over the period studied. Between knowledge hub members, changes in network parameters suggest an increase in collaborative interaction beyond that expected due to network growth, and greater than that found in the broader community. Given that interdisciplinary networks often take several years to have an impact on research outputs, these changes within the relatively new MACSUR community provide evidence that the knowledge hub structure has been effective in stimulating collaboration. However, analysis showed that knowledge hub partners were initially well-connected, suggesting that the initiative may have gathered together researchers with particular resources or inclinations towards collaborative working. Long term, consistent funding and ongoing reflection to improve networking structures may be necessary to sustain the early positive signs from MACSUR, to extend its success to a wider community of researchers, or to repeat it in less connected fields of science. Tackling complex challenges such as climate change will require research structures that can effectively support and utilise the diversity of talents beyond the already well-connected core of scientists at major research institutes. But network research shows that this core, well-connected group are vital brokers in achieving wider integration

Keywords

  • agriculture, climate change, interdisciplinary collaboration, co-authorship networks, EU research policy, collaborative funding initiatives, knowledge hub