wallace koehler wkoehler at VALDOSTA.EDU
Wed Nov 2 07:31:15 EDT 2011

On this same note, order of authorship may reflect other social 
agreements as well. My father was a reasonably well known and well 
published physicist at Oak Ridge National Lab. It was the practice of 
the team with whom he often published to rotate the author order without 
respect to seniority or contribution.

Wallace Koehler, PhD
Master of Library and Information Science Program
Odum Library
Valdosta State University
1500 N. Patterson St
Valdosta, GA 31698-0150
email - wkoehler at
voice: 229 333 5860 fax 229 259 5055

"I ain't no physicisk, but I knows what matters." Popeye the Sailor Man (aka Robin Williams, 1980)

On 11/2/2011 7:22 AM, David Wojick wrote:
> Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe): 
> Indeed Gemma, an extreme 
> case of this is when one is senoir faculty at a universtity, as many 
> Nobelists are. One may co-author many papers a year in last position 
> because they are derived from the multiple doctoral theses one has 
> directed. This is quite common, so much so that it is difficult to 
> determine the actual research focus of the senior faculty member. It 
> may also be true for post-docs one supervises, but I have not studied 
> that case.
> David
> On Nov 2, 2011, *Gemma Derrick* <gemma.derrick at CCHS.CSIC.ES> wrote:
>     Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>     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.
>     Sincerely,
>     Gemma
>     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 <mailto: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
>     Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>     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
>     <>
>     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
>     Project.
>     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 expertise.
>     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 funding.
>     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 science.
>     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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