Several research studies and reports on national and European science and technology indicators have recently presented figures reflecting intensifying scientific collaboration and increasing citation impact in practically all science areas and at all levels of aggregation. The main objective of this paper is twofold, namely first to analyse if the number or weight of actors in scientific communication has increased, if patterns of documented scientific communication and collaboration have changed in the last two decades and if these tendencies have inflationary features. The second question is concerned with the role of scientific collaboration in this context. In particular, the question will be answered to what extent co-authorship and publication activity, on one hand, and co-authorship and citation impact, on the other hand, do interact. The answers found to these questions have strong implication for the application of bibliometric indicators in research evaluation, moreover, the construction of indicators applied to trend analyses and studies based on medium-term or long-term observations have to be reconsidered to guarantee the validity of conclusions drawn from bibliometric results.
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