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Statistical common author networks



A new method for visualizing the relatedness of scientific areas has been developed that is based on measuring the overlap of researchers between areas. It is found that closely related areas have a high propensity to share a larger number of common authors. A method for comparing areas of vastly different sizes and to handle name homonymy is constructed, allowing for the robust deployment of this method on real data sets. A statistical analysis of the probability distributions of the common author overlap that accounts for noise is carried out along with the production of network maps with weighted links proportional to the overlap strength. This is demonstrated on 2 case studies, complexity science and neutrino physics, where the level of relatedness of areas within each area is expected to vary greatly. It is found that the results returned by this method closely match the intuitive expectation that the broad, multidisciplinary area of complexity science possesses areas that are weakly related to each other, whereas the much narrower area of neutrino physics shows very strongly related areas.