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The collaborative effect of scientific meetings: A study of the International Milk Genomics Consortium.


Collaboration among scientists has a major influence on scientific progress. Such collaboration often results from scientific meetings, where scientists gather to present and discuss their research and to meet potential collaborators. However, most scientific meetings have inherent biases, such as the availability of research funding or the selection bias of professional societies that make it difficult to study the effect of the meeting per se on scientific productivity. To evaluate the effects of scientific meetings on collaboration and progress independent of these biases, we conducted a study of the annual symposia held by the International Milk Genomics Consortium (IMGC) over a 12-year period. In our study, we conducted permutation testing to analyze the effectiveness of the IMGC in facilitating collaboration and productivity in a community of milk scientists who were meeting attendees relative to non-attendees. Using the number of co-authorships on published papers as a measure of collaboration, our analysis revealed that scientists who attended the symposium were associated with more collaboration than were scientists who did not attend. Furthermore, we evaluated the scientific progress of consortium attendees by analyzing publication rate and article impact. We found that IMGC attendees, in addition to being more collaborative, were also more productive and influential than were non-attendees who published in the same field. The results of our study suggest that the annual symposium encouraged interactions among disparate scientists and increased research productivity, exemplifying the positive effect of scientific meetings on both collaboration and progress.

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