This research explores and describes co-authorship network structures in the academic publication process. The production of academic publications, through co-authorship choices or strategies, creates a network structure among co-authoring scholars which can influence research visibility and enhance stature among peers (Bayer & Smart, 1991). A specific scholar's co-authorship network may reflect a structure of more cohesion (Coleman, 1988) or one which fills more structural holes (Burt, 1992), both of which are theorized, from contrasting perspectives, to be associated with publication success. Therefore, this study examined the association of these two academic co-authorship network structures with publication success, specifically within the field of research and scholarship on higher education. The network population consisted of 810 academic scholars who published articles in at least one of four top-ranked higher education research journals. Based upon structural holes and cohesion, seven different co-authorship network structures were identified. In terms of total publications, findings suggest that filling structural holes—a network structure that spans across the larger network and provides authors with a greater variety of co-authors—may even be further enhanced when there were also multiple publications with the same co-authors. Thus, an ideal hybrid network structure of both structural holes and strong ties may be possible. The data suggested that co-authoring multiple times with the same scholars (mean tie strength) may be critical to realizing the potential value buried within the structural holes (Burt, 2001).



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





Social Networks, Strategy, Co-authorship, Cohesion, Structural Holes, Higher Education