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This project aims to investigate how scientific research networks operate to deliver both scientific breakthroughs and applicable results. This goal is particularly relevant at a time of increasing pressure from public funding agencies and science rewards systems to demonstrate scientific and societal impact from publicly funded research. The research proposal has three axes that address unique and novel contributions from conceptual, empirical and methodological perspectives. First, from a conceptual perspective, the proposal investigates the relationship between research networks and knowledge generation by analyzing the interplay between network diversity and network cohesion on scientific discoveries and innovation. Network diversity refers to the heterogeneity of network partners on two dimensions: cognitive (i.e. knowledge backgrounds) and institutional (i.e. social norms and organizational cultures). Network cohesion refers to the capacity to articulate coordination mechanisms that enhance sharing of tangible and intangible resources and the alignment of norms and incentives among heterogeneous partners. Second, from an empirical perspective, research networks have particular social and economic resonance in the field of biomedicine. While outstanding progress has been made into understanding the root causes of diseases, translation of advances in basic research into improved healthcare has often experienced significant delays. This has led to worldwide policies to promote networks of heterogeneous actors (mainly, basic and clinical scientists, medical practitioners and patients) to enhance interaction between the laboratory and patients bedside. Systematic analysis of the results of these initiatives is rather limited. The research proposed aims to fill this gap. Finally, our methodological approach adopts a dual perspective. On the one hand, we employ a project-based approach, taking the research project level as the unit of analysis for investigating research network configurations and dynamics. On the other hand, we employ a longitudinal approach to examine the interplay between network diversity and cohesion along different phases of project development and implementation. The proposed research design combines multiple methods including case-study research, large-scale surveys, and longitudinal analysis of co-authorship networks, thus combining quantitative and qualitative approaches. We will focus on multiple areas of biomedical research including: neurodegenerative diseases; oncology; diabetes; cardiovascular diseases; rare diseases; and regenerative medicine. The project is unique in bringing together highly interdisciplinary expertise from team members: P. DEste (Ingenio, CSIC-UPV)) in innovation studies; R. Poveda-Bautista (UPV) and O. LLopis (UV) in social network research and influence analysis; and A. Diaz-Faes (Ingenio) and A. Yegros (CWTS) in scientometrics and research evaluation. We also plan to hire one postdoctoral researcher with expertise in the research fields covered in this proposal. This project will advance the state of the art on the relation between networks and knowledge generation by analyzing (i) processes of tie formation conducive to network cohesion and (ii) the impact of research collaborations on scientific discoveries and innovation, with novel insights into the context of biomedical research.

Proyecto RTI2018-101232-B-I00 financiado por FEDER / Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación – Agencia Estatal de Investigación