Working Paper

Informal Intellectual Collaboration with Central Colleagues


  • Georg
  • C.-P.
  • Opolot
  • D.C.
  • Rose
  • M.E.
Publication Date

When preparing a research article, academics engage in informal intellectual collaboration by asking their colleagues for feedback. This collaboration gives rise to a social network between academics. We study whether informal intellectual collaboration with an academic who is more central in this social network results in a research article having higher scientific impact. To address the well-known reflection problem in estimating network effects, we use the assignment of discussants at NBER summer institutes as a quasi-natural experiment. We show that manuscripts discussed by a discussant with a 10% higher than average Bonacich centrality rank results in 1.4% more citations and a 5% higher probability that an article is published in a top journal. To illustrate our results, we develop a structural model in which a positive externality from intellectual collaboration implies that collaborating with a more central colleague results in larger scientific impact of the research article.


JEL Classification
A14, D83, G00, O33

Key Words

  • centrality
  • Informal intellectual collaboration
  • scientific impact
  • social network