Exploring themes that affect research behavior and scientific integrity

A team of scholars at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Zurich embarked on a project aimed at gaining insights into academic research behavior. The overarching aim of the project was to explore how attitudes, social norms, and cooperation influence publication behavior and scientific integrity. Specific subprojects delved into topics such as the impact of diversity in research teams on conflicts, the role of alphabetical name-ordering norms in scientific success, and the advantages of working in teams in the scientific community, particularly for women.

“The team used the Dimensions database to measure the publication behavior and success of the survey (see below) participants. Having access to the relational structure in the Dimensions database, provided the team with information at the researcher, publication, journal, and organization level, allowed the team to collect and aggregate the desired variables.”

The team at Institute of Sociology, University of Zurich

The Zurich Survey of Academics (ZSoA)

The project’s primary focus was on conducting a large-scale web survey known as the Zurich Survey of Academics (ZSoA), which involved over 15,000 researchers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This comprehensive survey covered a wide range of topics relevant to the academic world, including researchers’ socio-demographics, research conditions, publication strategies, questionable research practices, and science communication. The overarching goal was to shed light on pressing issues in academia and understand their complex interrelationships. Approximately 9,000 respondents gave permission to link their survey data with their publication data, leading to the creation of an innovative dataset combining socio-demographics, attitudes, and publication behavior.

Streamlining data collection and analysis with Dimensions

Working with the Dimensions database provided significant time savings and efficiency gains. Given the vast number of survey respondents, collecting data on their publications and citations individually would have been impractical. The Dimensions database’s existence made the project feasible and streamlined data collection and analysis.

Dimensions’ speed of operation, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness through Google Big Query (GBQ) were particularly useful for the team. Additionally, the extensive dataset allowed for the calculation of field-specific metrics to provide valuable context to the project’s findings.

Unveiling interesting findings

While some subprojects are ongoing, preliminary results shed light on key findings. Notably, interdisciplinary collaboration was identified as a conflict driver, while gender and academic status had minimal influence on conflict frequency. The investigation into alphabetical name-ordering norms showed no disadvantage for researchers with surnames late in the alphabet, and these norms helped reduce conflicts over authorship. Research on team dynamics revealed that scientists with more co-authors tended to publish more and receive more citations, with personal attitudes also playing a significant role in publication success.

To discover more about Dimensions via Google Big Query visit our website or get in touch with our team.