Who and where are the co-authors? The relationship between institutional and geographical distance in scientific publications
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The main goal of our research is to analyse the relationship between geographical and institutional distance in research collaboration. Given that there is institutional distance if different kinds of institutions collaborate, we want to verify if such distance changes, and in what direction, when the physical distance increases. This analysis is conducted at an aggregated level, than at a more disaggregated one, taking some factors into consideration: on one side the quality and relevance of the papers; on the other side the different nature and aims, therefore the different behaviour, of different institutions. Regarding the analysis tools, the social network analysis is joined with the regression analysis. The more relevant results may be synthesized in this way: at a more aggregate level the direction of the relationship between spatial and institutional distance does not emerge with full statistical evidence; at a more disaggregate level the results emerge more clearly: taking into consideration the papers that receive few citations (that may be considered as results of project of limited scientific relevance or quality), the relationship between geographical and institutional distance is inverse; among more cited papers, the relationship is direct. On another side, taking the behaviour of different institutions into consideration, we observe an inverse relationship between spatial and institutional distance for firms, universities and research centres, a direct relationship for hospitals. The phenomenon of inter-institutional collaboration is seen through the lens of coautorship of scientific publications in the Italian biotech sector. We analyse a database including the publications done by the Italian biotech firms from 2003 to 2005; the institutions the authors of the publications belong to are registered and classified in four categories (firms, universities, hospitals and research centres); their localization is registered too.