ABSTRACT

In 1980, Stanley Presser opened a paper in Social Studies of Science with a somewhat alarming phrase: “The dramatic growth of collaborative research over the last few decades has been clearly documented” (p. 95). Since Presser published his article, the average number of co-authors of scientific papers has doubled, the percentage of international collaborative publications has increased fivefold, and the mean distance between collaborating scholars is no longer measured in hundreds, but in thousands of kilometres. If 40 years ago the growth of scientific collaboration was dramatic, what adjective should we use today? Yes, science has always been a collective activity—a social system within which the intersubjective understanding of the world has been crafted and negotiated. But today’s science is saturated with collaboration on an unprecedented scale. Multilevel and multimodal networks increasingly condition and shape the contemporary cognitive enterprise. This collaborative turn not only alters the ways science is organised, managed, and performed but also enables new research objectives, accelerates knowledge production, and challenges practices of establishing the epistemic validity of science.