Geographical trends in academic conferences: An analysis of authors’ affiliations

Mannocci, Andrea; Osborne, Francesco and Motta, Enrico (2019). Geographical trends in academic conferences: An analysis of authors’ affiliations. Data Science, 2(1-2) pp. 181–203.



In the last decade, the research literature has reached an enormous volume with an unprecedented current annual increase of 1.5 million new publications. As research gets ever more global and new countries and institutions, either from academia or corporate environments, start to contribute, it is important to monitor this complex phenomenon and understand its dynamics and equilibria.

We present a study on a conference proceedings dataset extracted from Springer Nature SciGraph that illustrates insightful geographical trends and highlights the unbalanced growth of competitive research institutions worldwide in the 1996–2016 period. The main contribution of this work is fourfold. In the first instance, we found that the distributions of institutions and publications among countries follow a power law, consistently with previous literature, i.e., very few countries keep producing most of the papers accepted by high-tier conferences. Secondly, we show how the turnover rate of country rankings is extremely low and steadily declines over time, suggesting an alarmingly static landscape in which new entries struggle to emerge. We also performed an analysis of the venue locations and their effect on the distribution of countries involved in the publications, underlining the central role of Europe and China as knowledge hubs. Finally, we evidence the presence of an increasing gap between the number of institutions initiating and overseeing research endeavours (i.e. first and last authors’ affiliations) and the total number of institutions participating in research.

The paper also discusses our experience in working with authors’ affiliations: an utterly simple matter at first glance, that is instead revealed to be a complex research and technical challenge.

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