Tobias Reisch: “Understanding the development of medical research in Vienna…”

Jul 07, 2021 | 15:0016:00

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CSH researcher Tobias Reisch will will present a poster, titled “Understanding the development of medical research in Vienna through temporal scientific publication networks between 1930 and 2020” (research together with Marcia Ferreira and Stefan Thurner), at the Networks 2021 conference.




The history of a university is typically told through the annals of its professors, deans and rectors. To offer an additional perspective, we study the development of medical research in Vienna from 1930 to 2020 within the framework of quantitative history. To this end we perform an analysis of the collaborations, publication activity and international reception of medical research conducted at the University of Vienna and associated institutions. Based on the database we use the published affiliations of researchers to construct the network of international collaborations for Viennese medical research. Furthermore, we analyse the amount of produced research by publications and investigate the citation networks with respect to the influence of Viennese works on international publications as well as international influences on Viennese researchers. To compare our indicators with leading international institutions, we pick Harvard Medical School, the Karolinska Institute and Utrecht Medical School and discuss temporal and regional differences. This allows us to identify general trends as well as local characteristics.


We find changes in the intra- and inter-university cooperation networks, most prominently their strong densification since 2000. During the 1930s and 1940s national politics and World War II led to international isolation of Viennese research institutions and a dramatic reduction in publishing activity, transforming Vienna from a world-leading location for medical science to marginality. We discuss factors that help or hinder the catching-up process to world-leading places of research that is still continuing to date. The discussed factors include the transition towards English as the main language of publication, more international connections in the citation network and changes in the intra- and inter-institutional collaboration network. We discuss the trends in medical research and regional specializations by analysing the composition of a university’s publications according to fields of research. The affiliations used in scientific publications reveal the mobility of researchers and allow us to discuss the in- and outgoing mobility of authors for the investigated institutions.


We conclude with remarks on the limitations of our study and historical bibliometric data in general. With our case study we want to highlight the potential of scientometrics for historical analyses.


Jul 07, 2021


Networks 2021