Gemma Derrick gemma.derrick at CCHS.CSIC.ES
Wed Nov 2 06:39:06 EDT 2011

Hola de España Stephen,


Thank you so much for this email and for sharing the results of you study
with us.  Although, I found it very interesting would like to point out
something that may be of interest.  


You say that the Nobel Prize winners were usually ranked far down the
authorship list and that this reflects how authorship position is not
indicative of an authors importance. Whereas this would be extremely
interesting if it were true, I thought that I should point out that in many
scientific disciplines, chemistry included,  there is a specific cultural
practice surrounding authorship order.  Authorship order is not always done
by ‘importance’ nor is it done in order of contribution to the paper – with
the author who contributed the most to the paper ranked first and so on and
so forth until the last author is the one who contributed the least.
Instead, chemistry included, usually the last author is the most senior
member of the team.  More often than not, the first author is the main
contributor, but the last author may also be a major contributor but he is
put last because he is usually the head of the laboratory (the most senior
author).  Since Nobel Prize winners, I can safely assume, are heads of large
laboratories by the time their Nobel Prize is announced, this finding does
not surprise me.


I hope that this may help in the interpretation of your results.  Authorship
practice and the difference between fields is something that interests me
greatly and I look forward to hearing more of your results.





Dr Gemma Derrick PhD (ANU) | JAE Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Institute of Public Goods and Policies | Centre for Human and Social
Sciences | Spanish National Research Council
C/-Albasanz, 26-28 | Madrid | Espana (Spain) | 28037         
T +34 91 602 23 89 | M +34 650 697 832  | F +34 91 602 29 71
E gemma.derrick at  | W <> 


De: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics
[mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] En nombre de Stephen J Bensman
Enviado el: Monday, 31 October 2011 6:50 PM
Asunto: [SIGMETRICS] Wikiscience


I have been using the Publish or Perish software, which was created by
Anne-Wil Harzing, to study the h-index publications of the winners of the
Nobel Prize in chemistry.  These publications fulfilled the stipulation
Garfield’s law of concentration by all being articles published in the few
elite journals highest in total cites.  The median rank of these journals by
total cites was 22.  What struck me most about these publication was the
amount of co-authorship of these articles  and the fact that the winners of
the Nobel prize most often were not the primary authors but ranked far down
the authorship list.  It struck me that breakthrough chemical research was
highly collaborative and authorship position is not indicative of the
author’s importance.  One of these papers had 22 co-authors, and the prize
winner was last.  It struck me that attributing citations to one author or
another in certain fields is archaic as we are dealing with collectives or
what I call “wikiscience.”  For this reason, I found the Wall Street Journal
article below of extreme interest.  It seems that, to evaluate a scientist’s
true importance, you must use something like Google Scholar, which can
retrieve the scientist’s works no matter what her/his authorship position.
Harzing’s Publish or Perish software can be downloaded for free from the
following Web site:  



Stephen J Bensman

LSU Libraries

Lousiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA 70803



Description: The Wall Street Journal

EADER_TEXT=life+%26+style> & CULTURE

OCTOBER 29, 2011

The New Einsteins Will Be Scientists Who Share 

>From cancer to cosmology, researchers could race ahead by working
together—online and in the open



In January 2009, a mathematician at Cambridge University named Tim Gowers
decided to use his blog to run an unusual social experiment. He picked out a
difficult mathematical problem and tried to solve it completely in the open,
using his blog to post ideas and partial progress. He issued an open
invitation for others to contribute their own ideas, hoping that many minds
would be more powerful than one. He dubbed the experiment the Polymath

Description: [science]Alex Nabaum 

On an experimental blog, a far-flung group of mathematicians cracked a tough
problem in weeks.

Several hours after Mr. Gowers opened up his blog for discussion, a
Canadian-Hungarian mathematician posted a comment. Fifteen minutes later, an
Arizona high-school math teacher chimed in. Three minutes after that, the
UCLA mathematician Terence Tao commented. The discussion ignited, and in
just six weeks, the mathematical problem had been solved.

Other challenges have followed, and though the polymaths haven't found
solutions every time, they have pioneered a new approach to problem-solving.
Their work is an example of the experiments in networked science that are
now being done to study everything from galaxies to dinosaurs.

These projects use online tools as cognitive tools to amplify our collective
intelligence. The tools are a way of connecting the right people to the
right problems at the right time, activating what would otherwise be latent

Networked science has the potential to speed up dramatically the rate of
discovery across all of science. We may well see the day-to-day process of
scientific research change more fundamentally over the next few decades than
over the past three centuries. 

But there are major obstacles to realizing this goal. Though you might think
that scientists would aggressively adopt new tools for discovery, they have
been surprisingly inhibited. Ventures such as the Polymath Project remain
the exception, not the rule.

Consider the idea of sharing scientific data online. The best-known example
of this is the human genome project, whose data may be downloaded by anyone.
When you read in the news that a certain gene is associated with a
particular disease, you're almost certainly seeing a discovery made possible
by the project's open-data policy. 

Despite the value of open data, most labs make no systematic effort to share
data with other scientists. As one biologist told me, he had been "sitting
on [the] genome" for an entire species of life for more than a year. A whole
species of life! Just imagine the vital discoveries that other scientists
could have made if that genome had been uploaded to an online database.

Why don't scientists share?

If you're a scientist applying for a job or a grant, the biggest factor
determining your success will be your record of scientific publications. If
that record is stellar, you'll do well. If not, you'll have a problem. So
you devote your working hours to tasks that will lead to papers in
scientific journals.

Even if you personally think it would be far better for science as a whole
if you carefully curated and shared your data online, that is time away from
your "real" work of writing papers. Except in a few fields, sharing data is
not something your peers will give you credit for doing. 

There are other ways in which scientists are still backward in using online
tools. Consider, for example, the open scientific wikis launched by a few
brave pioneers in fields like quantum computing, string theory and genetics
(a wiki allows the sharing and collaborative editing of an interlinked body
of information, the best-known example being Wikipedia). 

Specialized wikis could serve as up-to-date reference works on the latest
research in a field, like rapidly evolving super-textbooks. They could
include descriptions of major unsolved scientific problems and serve as a
tool to find solutions.

But most such wikis have failed. They have the same problem as data sharing:
Even if scientists believe in the value of contributing, they know that
writing a single mediocre paper will do far more for their careers. The
incentives are all wrong.

If networked science is to reach its potential, scientists will have to
embrace and reward the open sharing of all forms of scientific knowledge,
not just traditional journal publication. Networked science must be open
science. But how to get there?

A good start would be for government grant agencies (like the National
Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation) to work with
scientists to develop requirements for the open sharing of knowledge that is
discovered with public support. Such policies have already helped to create
open data sets like the one for the human genome. But they should be
extended to require earlier and broader sharing. Grant agencies also should
do more to encourage scientists to submit new kinds of evidence of their
impact in their fields—not just papers!—as part of their applications for

The scientific community itself needs to have an energetic, ongoing
conversation about the value of these new tools. We have to overthrow the
idea that it's a diversion from "real" work when scientists conduct
high-quality research in the open. Publicly funded science should be open

Improving the way that science is done means speeding us along in curing
cancer, solving the problem of climate change and launching humanity
permanently into space. It means fundamental insights into the human
condition, into how the universe works and what it's made of. It means
discoveries not yet dreamt of. 

In the years ahead, we have an astonishing opportunity to reinvent discovery
itself. But to do so, we must first choose to create a scientific culture
that embraces the open sharing of knowledge.

—Mr. Nielsen is a pioneer in the field of quantum computing and the author
of "Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science," from which
this is adapted. 

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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