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Abstract

Studying scientific collaboration using coauthorship networks has attracted much attention in recent years. How and in what context two authors collaborate remain among the major questions. Previous studies, however, have focused on either exploring the global topology of coauthorship networks (macro perspective) or ranking the impact of individual authors (micro perspective). Neither of them has provided information on the context of the collaboration between two specific authors, which may potentially imply rich socioeconomic, disciplinary, and institutional information on collaboration. Different from the macro perspective and micro perspective, this article proposes a novel method (meso perspective) to analyze scientific collaboration, in which a contextual subgraph is extracted as the unit of analysis. A contextual subgraph is defined as a small subgraph of a large-scale coauthorship network that captures relationship and context between two coauthors. This method is applied to the field of library and information science. Topological properties of all the subgraphs in four time spans are investigated, including size, average degree, clustering coefficient, and network centralization. Results show that contextual subgprahs capture useful contextual information on two authors' collaboration.