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Mapping Collaboration Networks in the World of Autism Research


  • Funding: No external funding support was used for the production of this paper.
  • Conflicts of interest: BKL and NDG declare no potential conflicts of interest. HT-F is the past president of the International Society for Autism Research.


In the era of globalization and with the emergence of autism spectrum disorder as a global concern, the landscape of autism research has expanded to encompass much of the world. Here, we seek to provide an overview of the world of autism research, by documenting collaboration underlying the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), the pre-eminent annual scientific meeting devoted to the presentation of the latest autism research. We analyzed published abstracts presented at IMFAR meetings, between 2008 and 2013, to determine patterns of collaboration. We described collaboration networks on the individual, institutional, and international levels, and visually depicted these results on spatial network maps. Consistent with findings from other scientific disciplines, we found that collaboration is correlated with research productivity. Collaborative hotspots of autism research throughout the years were clustered on the East and West coasts of the U.S., Canada, and northern Europe. In years when conferences were held outside of North America, the proportion of abstracts from Europe and Asia increased. While IMFAR has traditionally been dominated by a large North American presence, greater global representation may be attained by shifting meeting locations to other regions of the world. Autism Res 2015, 8: 1–8. © 2014 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.