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The many facets of academic mobility and its impact on scholars’ career

International mobility in academia can enhance the human and social capital of researchers and consequently their scientific outcome. However, there is still a very limited understanding of the different mobility patterns among scholars with various socio-demographic characteristics. By studying these differences, we can detect inequalities in access to scholarly networks across borders, which can cause disparities in scientific advancement.

The aim of this study is twofold. First, we investigate to what extent individuals’ factors (e.g., country, career stage, and field of research) associate with the mobility of male and female researchers. Second, we explore the relationship between mobility and scientific activity and impact. For this purpose, we used a bibliometric approach to track the mobility of authors. To compare the researchers’ scientific outcomes, we considered the number of publications and received citations as indicators, as well as the number of unique co-authors in all their publications. We also analyzed the co-authorship network of researchers and compared centrality measures of “mobile” and “non-mobile” researchers.

Results show that researchers from North America and Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly female ones, have the lowest, respectively, highest tendency towards international mobility. Having international co-authors increases the probability of international movement. Our findings uncover gender inequality in international mobility across scientific fields and countries. Across genders, researchers in the Physical sciences have the most and in the Social sciences the least rate of mobility.

We observed more mobility for Social scientists at the advanced career stage, while researchers in other fields prefer to move at earlier career stages. Also, we found a positive correlation between mobility and scientific outcomes, but no apparent difference between females and males. Indeed, researchers who have started mobility at the advanced career stages had a better scientific outcome. Comparing the centrality of mobile and non-mobile researchers in the co-authorship networks reveals a higher social capital advantage for mobile researchers.


Fakhri Momeni, Fariba Karimi, Philipp Mayr, Isabella Peters, Stefan Dietze, The many facets of academic mobility and its impact on scholars’ career, Journal of Informetrics 16 (2) (2022) 101280


Fariba Karimi, Faculty Member at the Complexity Science Hub © Matthias Raddant

Fariba Karimi

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