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Together Forever

Researchers who work together for a long stretch of their careers may be rewarded with higher citation rates, according to an analysis appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alexander Petersen from the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca sifted through the publication records of 473 biologists and physicists, encompassing some 94,000 publications and including 166,000 different collaborations, some of which were short term and some of which were longer lasting. He found a number of instances in which researchers collaborated with each other multiple times during the course of their careers, sometimes sharing half of their publications with each other.

A further subset of these scientific relationships was especially strong and led to a high number of publications over time. Researchers with these 'super ties' were cited 21 more times in biology and eight more times in physics, on average, as Nature News notes.

"The qualities of super ties — trust, conviction, and commitment — might actually lead to better science," Petersen tells Nature News.

Petersen adds, though, that it could also be that the increased number of publications from these long-term collaborations could afford researchers more opportunities to cite their own work and boost their citation count that way.