SIGMETRICS Digest - 19 May 2005 to 20 May 2005 - Special issue (#2005-77)

David Watkins David.Watkins at SOLENT.AC.UK
Mon May 23 07:26:53 EDT 2005

Authors per Paper

I'm all for modelling this, but we need also to understand the social
processess going on which cause differences. Some of these are interesting
and complex, but cross sectional analysis can mask them

First, there are national differences in the way in which authors are
allocated credit in publications. Since the implementation of the RAE in
the UK there is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that otherwise
'unproductive' staff are added to papers so they get beyond the personal
productivity threshold for inclusion in institutional returns. This is done
to maximise departmental / institutional income.

Second, some of the differences between fields are artefacts of
disciplinary maturity. In 'small science' (and academic non-science) it may
be that individual interests drive early work, with collaboration following
later at a rate determined by the expanding interest - if any - the new
field generates. Some time ago (1994/5) I looked at the origins of small
business / entrepreneurship research in the UK [Small Business and
Enterprise Development 1 (3) 28-31 and 2 (1) 59-66] at a time before the
field could sustain specialised journals, so that research was reported in
edited books based on a selection of best papers from annual conferences.
Historically this is an important developmental route for new areas in
social science and humanities. The trend from single to multiple authorship
was clear. Over a ten year period the mean rose from 1.63 to 2.16; the mode
went from 1 to 2. At least initially much of this collaboration was
inter-institutional since there was not yet a critical mass in any one
university and lone (lonely?) researchers felt the need to reach out for
reassurance that they were not commiting career suicide to kindred spirits
elsewhere. My guess would be that the mode is still 2 - certainly not more
than 3 - but that the mean has risen and that collaborations are now much
more focused within rather than between institutions.

I'd be interested in similar studies, particularly in the social sciences.

Professor David Watkins
Postgraduate Research Centre
Southampton Business School
East Park Terrace
Southampton SO14 0RH

David.Watkins at
 023 80 319610 (Tel)
+44 23 80 31 96 10 (Tel)

02380 33 26 27 (fax)
+44 23 80 33 26 27 (fax)

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