Social network analysis of the academic GIScience community

Shipeng Sun, Steven M. Manson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


There is mounting interest among scientists regarding the use of scientometric social network analysis, or quantitative analysis of the evolution of science as defined by individual researchers and the networks they form. Given that geographers have seldom used this approach compared to researchers in other fields, its implications for research and policy need to be assessed. We applied scientometric social network analysis to geographic information science (GIScience) to understand how the field has evolved over the last sixteen years and to assess the applicability of the standard logistic model of the growth of scientific disciplines. In particular, we examined collaboration in the field at multiple scales, namely, the evolution of the entire research network structure, the nature of subnetworks in defining geographic information science, and the roles individuals play within the community. By delineating how collaborations and research networks have evolved in GIScience, the study addresses the potential of scientometric social network analysis for geography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-33
Number of pages16
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
There is also evidence of international divides. Dr. Lovett has an exceptional record of publication without a corresponding distance distribution. This discrepancy might be caused by differentials in the size of the GIScience research community in the United Kingdom ver- sus the United States. For instance, the UCGIS has seventy-four American educational members (UCGIS 2010), whereas the U.K. RAE 2001 lists sixty-two general geography programs (RAE 2001) and the Association of Geographic Information has only twenty-seven British academic institutional members (Association of Geographic Information 2010). Practically speaking, funding organizations such as the National Science Foundation in the United States and the Economic and Social Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the United Kingdom limit the salaries and travel funds that can be used to support foreign researchers, which impedes international collaboration.


  • Coauthorship network
  • GIScience community
  • Scientometric social network analysis


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