Proximity Still Matters (07-14-17)

Researchers associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that where we work has a significant effect on who we work with, still (Claudel, Massaro, Santi, Murray, and Ratti, 2017).  The investigators report that “Academic research is increasingly cross-disciplinary and collaborative, between and within institutions. . . . We examine the collaboration patterns of faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . . . over a 10-year time span.”  A press release issued by MIT reviewing the work of Claudel and his team states that their research “revealed the importance of spatial relations on campus, above and beyond departmental and institutional structures. . . . .the study finds that cross-disciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration is fueled by basic face-to-face interaction. . . .When it comes to co-authoring papers, researchers located in the same workspace [office suite, for example] are more than three times as likely to collaborate compared to those who are 400 meters apart. The frequency of collaboration further drops in half when researchers are 800 meters apart. For patents, that curve is slightly less steep. Researchers in the same workspace are more than twice as likely to collaborate compared to those who are 400 meters apart. But the frequency of collaboration does not diminish as quickly, and only drops in half again when researchers are 1,600 meters apart. . . . as the paper notes, however, for both papers and patents there is ‘a persistent relationship between physical proximity and intensity of collaboration.’"

Matthew Claudel, Emanuele Massaro, Paolo Santi, Fiona Murray, and Carlo Ratti.  2017.  “An Exploration of Collaborative Scientific Production at MIT Through Spatial Organization and Institutional Affiliation.”  PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 6.

Peter Dizikes.  2017.  “Proximity Boosts Collaboration on MIT Campus.”  MIT press release,