KDD Papers

A Century of Science: Globalization of Scientific Collaborations, Citations, and Innovations

Yuxiao Dong (University of Notre Dame);Hao Ma (Microsoft Research);Zhihong Shen (MSR);Kuansan Wang (MSR)


Progress in science has advanced the development of human society across history, with dramatic revolutions shaped by information theory, genetic cloning, and artificial intelligence among the many scientific achievements produced in the 20th century. However, the way that science advances itself is much less well-understood. In this work we study the evolution of scientific development over the past century by presenting an anatomy of 89 million digitalized papers published between 1900 and 2015. We find that science has benefited from the shift from individual work to collaborative effort, with over 90% of the world-leading innovations generated by collaborations in this century, nearly four times higher than they were in the 1900s. We discover that rather than the frequent myopic- and self-referencing that was common in the early 20th century, modern scientists tend to instead look for literature further back and farther around. Finally, we also observe the globalization process of scientific development from 1900 to 2015, including 25-time and 7-time increases in international collaborations and citations, respectively, as well as a decrease from a 95% dominance in citation collections by the US, the UK, and Germany to 50%. Our discoveries are meant as a starter to explore the visionary ways by which science has developed itself during the past century, providing insight into and impact on current scientific innovations and funding policies.