Structure and dynamics of meta-organizational scientific communities

Bondarev V.P.

Cand. Sci. (Geograph.), Assoc. Prof., Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Ruleva S.N.

Cand. Sci. (Geograph.), Senior Researcher, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

DOI: 10.7868/S0132162518050124
ID of the Article: 7184

For citation:

Bondarev V.P., Ruleva S.N. Structure and dynamics of meta-organizational scientific communities. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2018. No 5. P. 132-144


Communicational analysis of scientific laboratories, based on the scientometrical methodology, has been well developed since the second part of XX century. Still, it seems to be underestimated in the field of studying meta-organizational communities. The given article presents the results of exploring the structure and dynamics of the meta-organizational community by means of the communicational analysis. The selected object of the study is The Interuniversity scientific-coordination council on the problems of erosion, channel and river mouth processes at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. The Council exists for over 30 years and has established itself as a reputable scientific community. The empirical base of the study is the collections of scientific works, published during the annual conferences of this Community. The analysis has allowed to describe the particular activity of the Community – it showed the main stages of formation and development, which can be described by a cyclic model (3- and 8-year cycles were presumably detected). The structure of the Community has also been well described at its different levels – individual, organizational, inter-regional and international. The individual level reveals the “core” of the most active participants of the Community – only 3% of the communicators mostly determine sustainable reproduction of the publication activity. The analysis of individual co-authorship within the Community reveals following tendencies: 1) the number of individual scientific works is constantly decreasing, which may be a consequence of the prevailing collective nature of modern scientific research; 2) in the periods of social instability the number of individual applications increases, the Community itself reduces its activity. The analysis of the co-authorship within the “core” of the Community allows us to conclude, that the most important members might be the researchers, who have regularly published both individual and collective materials. Generally, they appear to be the leaders of some scientific schools, bringing their own concepts and then developing them in a team. The next (organizational) level reveals the involvement of different universities, institutes, laboratories, scientific schools and other organizations, as well as their contribution to the activity of the Community. The stable part of the Community consists of only 6% from the total number of the participating organizations. Generally, these organizations represent the most actively developing directions of research relevant to the Community. The regional and international levels show the width of the discussing scientific issues, as well as the efficiency of consolidation within the given scientific Community. During the years of its existence, the Community involved the participants from 23 countries, represented by 90 different cities. The leadership in the participation belongs to Russia, Ukraine and Poland. Thematic analysis has also been provided as one of the most productive methods of modern scientometrical research. The results allow us to determine the most sustainable fields of study and their dynamics. E.g., theoretical publications dominated over empirical ones in the period of «start-up» as well as in the periods of social instability – at the time, when some serious «breakthrough» was needed to define a new course of development for the whole Community. Thematic analysis has also identified the main interdisciplinary connections and tight communications with larger scientific sub-disciplines (geography, physics, chemistry, social sciences, etc.). As one of the most important results, it has been defined that the activity of the Community is inherently linked to one of the most important issues of our time: ecological problems of anthropogenic transformation of the environment.

meta-organizational scientific communities; scientific communication; communicative analysis; thematic analysis; scientometrics; array of scientific publications

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