Adoption Team Science: A Way Forward
Background: Publication surveys indicate adoption research is expanding, creating a research environment of increasing complexity and specialization, while also increasing risk of disciplinary fragmentation that impedes access to comprehensive holistic knowledge. Intentional cross-disciplinary collaboration has expanded throughout scientific and organizational communities worldwide on the evidence that scientific collaboration produces higher-impact research and that complex scientific problems are better investigated by interdisciplinary teams. The degree to which the expanding body of adoption research is performed in a collaborative and cross-disciplinary environment has not been formally evaluated. Social Network Analysis (SNA) has been applied in large bibliometric analyses to characterize the attributes of scholarly systems.
Aims: This research aims to elucidate the structure, composition and dynamics of scientific relationships of co-authorship and co-citation within the body of adoption research. Specifically to identify predominant disciplines, map collaborative relationships, uncover current and emerging intellectual leaders and detect structural network characteristics that may inform and strengthen research and practice strategies, competencies and cohesion within the field.
Methods: We extracted data on 2767 peer-reviewed adoption-related English-language articles published from the 1930s to 2014. We then applied statistical and social network analysis to evaluate frequencies and relationships of co-authorship and co-citation networks within the study and cited authors of the identified articles.
Findings: We found adoption research has grown substantially over the last 25 years and is conducted in varied disciplines. Collaboration increased over time at a greater rate than volume and expanded across geography and disciplinary areas. Changes in the most-connected authors indicate active dynamics, while stability in the most-cited authors indicate agreed-upon theoretical knowledge base. The co-authorship and co-citation networks grew in connectedness, with a surge since 2005-2009 time period. As a result, the network structures approach numeric thresholds and structural configurations distinctive of well-established and more institutionalized fields of study.
Implications: These findings reveal the maturation of adoption studies into an emerging team science that is unifying through collaboration, diversifying across disciplines and sharing knowledge of recognized intellectual communities and leaders. These strong indicators signal a readiness for the development of institutional mechanisms that support further evolution of the field, specifically intentional multi-disciplinary team building and the creation of a multi-disciplinary professional organization.