Intellectual contributions meriting authorship: Survey results from the top cited authors across all science categories

Authors : Gregory S. Patience, Federico Galli, Paul A. Patience, Daria C. Boffito

Authorship is the currency of an academic career for which the number of papers researchers publish demonstrates creativity, productivity, and impact. To discourage coercive authorship practices and inflated publication records, journals require authors to affirm and detail their intellectual contributions but this strategy has been unsuccessful as authorship lists continue to grow.

Here, we surveyed close to 6000 of the top cited authors in all science categories with a list of 25 research activities that we adapted from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) authorship guidelines.

Responses varied widely from individuals in the same discipline, same level of experience, and same geographic region. Most researchers agreed with the NIH criteria and grant authorship to individuals who draft the manuscript, analyze and interpret data, and propose ideas.

However, thousands of the researchers also value supervision and contributing comments to the manuscript, whereas the NIH recommends discounting these activities when attributing authorship.

People value the minutiae of research beyond writing and data reduction: researchers in the humanities value it less than those in pure and applied sciences; individuals from Far East Asia and Middle East and Northern Africa value these activities more than anglophones and northern Europeans.

While developing national and international collaborations, researchers must recognize differences in peoples values while assigning authorship.

URL : Intellectual contributions meriting authorship: Survey results from the top cited authors across all science categories


Correcting duplicate publications: follow up study of MEDLINE tagged duplications

Authors : Mario Malički, Ana Utrobičić, Ana Marušić


As MEDLINE indexers tag similar articles as duplicates even when journals have not addressed the duplication(s), we sought to determine the reasons behind the tagged duplications, and if the journals had undertaken or had planned to undertake any actions to address them.

Materials and methods

On 16 January 2013, we extracted all tagged duplicate publications (DPs), analysed published notices, and then contacted MEDLINE and editors regarding cases unaddressed by notices.

For non-respondents, we compared full text of the articles. We followed up the study for the next 5 years to see if any changes occurred.


We found 1011 indexed DPs, which represented 555 possible DP cases (in MEDLINE, both the original and the duplicate are assigned a DP tag). Six cases were excluded as we could not obtain their full text.

Additional 190 (35%) cases were incorrectly tagged as DPs. Of 359 actual cases of DPs, 200 (54%) were due to publishers’ actions (e.g. identical publications in the same journal), and 159 (46%) due to authors’ actions (e.g. article submission to more than one journal). Of the 359 cases, 185 (52%) were addressed by notices, but only 25 (7%) retracted.

Following our notifications, MEDLINE corrected 138 (73%) incorrectly tagged cases, and editors retracted 8 articles.


Despite clear policies on how to handle DPs, just half (54%) of the DPs in MEDLINE were addressed by journals and only 9% retracted. Publishers, editors, and indexers need to develop and implement standards for better correction of duplicate published records.

URL : Correcting duplicate publications: follow up study of MEDLINE tagged duplications


Authorship Distribution and Collaboration in LIS Open Access Journals: A Scopus based analysis during 2001 to 2015

Authors : Barik Nilaranjan, Jena Puspanjali

The present study is a bibliometric analysis of some selected open access Library and Information Science (LIS) journals indexed in Scopus database during the period 2001 to 2015. The study has covered 10 LIS open access journals with 5208 publications to establish an idea about the pattern of authorship, research collaboration, collaboration index, degree of collaboration, collaboration coefficient, author’s productivity, ranking of prolific authors etc. of said journals.

Lotkas’s inverse square law has been applied to know the scientific productivity of authors. Results show that, the covered LIS open access journals are dominant with single authorship pattern.

The value of Collaborative Index (0.73), Degree of Collaboration (0.72), and Collaboration Coefficient (0.29) do not show the trend of collaboration. Lotka’s law of author’s productivity is fitting to the present data set.

The country wise distribution of authorship based on the country of origin of the corresponding author shows that 83 countries across the Globe are active in publication of their research in LIS open access journals. United States of America (USA) is the leader country producing of 2822 (54.19%) authors alone.


How to counter undeserving authorship

Authors: Stefan Eriksson, Tove Godskesen, Lars Andersson, Gert Helgesson

The average number of authors listed on contributions to scientific journals has increased considerably over time. While this may be accounted for by the increased complexity of much research and a corresponding need for extended collaboration, several studies suggest that the prevalence of non-deserving authors on research papers is alarming.

In this paper a combined qualitative and quantitative approach is suggested to reduce the number of undeserving authors on academic papers: 1) ask scholars who apply for positions to explain the basics of a random selection of their co-authored papers, and 2) in bibliometric measurements, divide publications and citations by the number of authors.

URL : How to counter undeserving authorship


The Social Structure of Consensus in Scientific Review

Authors : Misha Teplitskiy, Daniel Acuna, Aida Elamrani-Raoult, Konrad Kording, James Evans

Personal connections between creators and evaluators of scientific works are ubiquitous, and the possibility of bias ever-present. Although connections have been shown to bias prospective judgments of (uncertain) future performance, it is unknown whether such biases occur in the much more concrete task of assessing the scientific validity of already completed work, and if so, why.

This study presents evidence that personal connections between authors and reviewers of neuroscience manuscripts are associated with biased judgments and explores the mechanisms driving the effect.

Using reviews from 7,981 neuroscience manuscripts submitted to the journal PLOS ONE, which instructs reviewers to evaluate manuscripts only on scientific validity, we find that reviewers favored authors close in the co-authorship network by ~0.11 points on a 1.0 – 4.0 scale for each step of proximity.

PLOS ONE’s validity-focused review and the substantial amount of favoritism shown by distant vs. very distant reviewers, both of whom should have little to gain from nepotism, point to the central role of substantive disagreements between scientists in different “schools of thought.”

The results suggest that removing bias from peer review cannot be accomplished simply by recusing the closely-connected reviewers, and highlight the value of recruiting reviewers embedded in diverse professional networks.


The rise of the middle author: Investigating collaboration and division of labor in biomedical research using partial alphabetical authorship

Authors : Philippe Mongeon, Elise Smith, Bruno Joyal, Vincent Larivière

Contemporary biomedical research is performed by increasingly large teams. Consequently, an increasingly large number of individuals are being listed as authors in the bylines, which complicates the proper attribution of credit and responsibility to individual authors.

Typically, more importance is given to the first and last authors, while it is assumed that the others (the middle authors) have made smaller contributions. However, this may not properly reflect the actual division of labor because some authors other than the first and last may have made major contributions.

In practice, research teams may differentiate the main contributors from the rest by using partial alphabetical authorship (i.e., by listing middle authors alphabetically, while maintaining a contribution-based order for more substantial contributions). In this paper, we use partial alphabetical authorship to divide the authors of all biomedical articles in the Web of Science published over the 1980–2015 period in three groups: primary authors, middle authors, and supervisory authors.

We operationalize the concept of middle author as those who are listed in alphabetical order in the middle of an authors’ list. Primary and supervisory authors are those listed before and after the alphabetical sequence, respectively.

We show that alphabetical ordering of middle authors is frequent in biomedical research, and that the prevalence of this practice is positively correlated with the number of authors in the bylines. We also find that, for articles with 7 or more authors, the average proportion of primary, middle and supervisory authors is independent of the team size, more than half of the authors being middle authors.

This suggests that growth in authors lists are not due to an increase in secondary contributions (or middle authors) but, rather, in equivalent increases of all types of roles and contributions (including many primary authors and many supervisory authors).

Nevertheless, we show that the relative contribution of alphabetically ordered middle authors to the overall production of knowledge in the biomedical field has greatly increased over the last 35 years.

URL : The rise of the middle author: Investigating collaboration and division of labor in biomedical research using partial alphabetical authorship




Making visible the invisible through the analysis of acknowledgements in the humanities

Author : Adrian A. Diaz-Faes, Maria Bordons


Science is subject to a normative structure that includes how the contributions and interactions between scientists are rewarded. Authorship and citations have been the key elements within the reward system of science, whereas acknowledgements, despite being a well-established element in scholarly communication, have not received the same attention.

This paper aims to put forward the bearing of acknowledgements in the humanities to bring to the foreground contributions and interactions that, otherwise, would remain invisible through traditional indicators of research performance.


The study provides a comprehensive framework to understanding acknowledgements as part of the reward system with a special focus on its value in the humanities as a reflection of intellectual indebtedness.

The distinctive features of research in the humanities are outlined and the role of acknowledgements as a source of contributorship information is reviewed to support these assumptions.


Peer interactive communication is the prevailing support thanked in the acknowledgements of humanities, so the notion of acknowledgements as super-citations can make special sense in this area.

Since single-authored papers still predominate as publishing pattern in this domain, the study of acknowledgements might help to understand social interactions and intellectual influences that lie behind a piece of research and are not visible through authorship.


Previous works have proposed and explored the prevailing acknowledgement types by domain.

This paper focuses on the humanities to show the role of acknowledgements within the reward system and highlight publication patterns and inherent research features which make acknowledgements particularly interesting in the area as reflection of the socio-cognitive structure of research.