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Do collaborations foster more creative or novel research?

In 2007, researchers from the Northwestern Institute on Complexity (NICO) and Kellogg School of Management published an influential study that analysed 19.9 million papers and 2.1 million patents to look at how research production has changed over time. The study found that:

Research is increasingly done in teams across nearly all fields. Teams typically produce more frequently cited research than individuals do, and this advantage has been increasing over time. Teams now also produce the exceptionally high-impact research, even where that distinction was once the domain of solo authors.1

In a follow-up article in Kellogg Insight, two of the researchers from the 2007 study suggest that a plausible explanation for the shift to teams is that more creative or novel research might be fostered by collaborations.

  1. WUCHTY, S., JONES, B. F. & UZZI, B. 2007. The Increasing Dominance of Teams in Production of Knowledge. Science, 316, 1036-1039.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine ( and currently also teaches in the University of NSW (UNSW) Foundation Studies program in China. He has expertise and experience in a wide range of areas including knowledge management (KM), environmental management, program and project management, writing and editing, stakeholder engagement, communications, and research. Bruce holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction and a Certificate of Technology (Electronics). With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource for knowledge managers, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee the implementation of an award-winning $77.4 million river recovery program in western Sydney on time and under budget, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support communities to sustainably manage landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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