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Formal and informal communication patterns among AIDS researchers: An investigation based on collaboration and productivity

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Title: Formal and informal communication patterns among AIDS researchers: An investigation based on collaboration and productivity
Author(s): Self, Phyllis Kennedy
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Lancaster, F. Wilfrid
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Smith, Linda C.; Shaw, William M., Jr.
Department / Program: Library and Information Science
Discipline: Library and Information Science
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): History of Science Information Science
Abstract: The Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has become a major health problem in the world and is discussed in the literature of many disciplines. Using bibliometric techniques and a mailed questionnaire, 87 international, AIDS researchers were studied in detail to determine whether or not patterns found in information communication resemble patterns found in formal communication.The database constructed for this study (AIDS Master File) was based on 8,926 AIDS-related articles downloaded from the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE file for the years 1983 to 1987. Due to the size of the AIDS Master File a subset based on the work of authors who continued to publish AIDS-related articles for each of five years was created. Full and fractional productivity counts, collaboration, and author continuity in the publishing of AIDS-related articles were studied and contrasted with responses to the mailed questionnaire.The data reveal that the AIDS literature is written predominantly by the collaboration of 2 or more individuals. Only 3.5% were written anonymously or by a single individual. At the other extreme there was one article written by as many as 30 authors. Only 87 authors continued to publish for each of the 5 years.The authors under investigation collaborated in the formal literature with more unique individuals than expected. The range was from 12 to 507 collaborators over the 5 year period. The number of coauthors per paper ranged from 3.5 to 10.1 with a mean of 6.5. The range of full productivity was one individual contributing 177 articles to one individual contributing 5 articles with the mean at 24.1.A strong correlation was found to exist between fractional and full productivity rates for the 87 authors, r = 0.95, supporting Derek J. de Solla Price's prediction that the same researchers will be in much the same order regardless of the method use. There was also a strong correlation between productivity and collaboration for the 87 authors.The reluctance of AIDS researchers to respond to the questionnaire had a limiting effect on the study of informal communication. Findings from this portion of the study indicate that neither one's international collaboration activity nor length of time spent conducting AIDS research appears to relate to one's productivity. Most of the 87 researchers placed their work in the discipline of immunology followed by epidemiology and virology. The data suggest that a high degree of collaboration occurs in this research field through both formal and informal communication channels. However, data collected were not sufficiently complete to allow firm conclusions to be drawn on the relationships that might exist between the patterns of collaboration in authorship with the patterns of informal communication.
Issue Date: 1990
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/19380
Rights Information: Copyright 1990 Self, Phyllis Christine Kennedy
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9026315
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9026315
 

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