Mega-authorship implications: How many scientists can fit into one cell?

Author : Daniel S. Dotson

The past 20 years has seen a significant increase in articles with 500 or more authors. This increase has presented problems in terms of determining true authorship versus other types of contribution, issues with database metadata and data output, and publication length. Using items with 500+ authors deemed as mega-author titles, a total of 5,533 mega-author items were identified using InCites. Metadata about the items was then gathered from Web of Science and Scopus.

Close examination of these items found that the vast majority of these covered physics topics, with medicine a far distant second place and only minor representation from other science fields. This mega-authorship saw significant events that appear to correspond to similar events in the Large Hadron Collider’s timeline, indicating that the projects for the collider are driving this heavy output. Some solutions are offered for the problems resulting from this phenomenon, partially driven by recommendations from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

URL : Mega-authorship implications: How many scientists can fit into one cell?


Presence and consequences of positive words in scientific abstracts

Authors : Moritz Edlinger, Finn Buchrieser, Guilherme Wood

Abstracts are the showcase of scientific studies, crafted to make an impression on the reader within a limited space and to determine the amount of attention each study receives. Systemic conditions in the sciences may change the expressive norm and incentive scientists to hype abstracts to promote their work and career. Previous studies found that terms such as “unprecedented”, “novel” and “unique” have been used increasingly in recent history, to describe one’s own research findings.

The present study investigates the use of valence-loaded scientific jargon in the abstracts of scientific articles. Sentiment analysis with dictionaries specifically attuned to detect valence-loaded scientific jargon was employed to analyze more than 2,300,000 MEDLINE abstracts from the fields of psychology, biology, and physics. Results show that over the last four decades, abstracts have contained an increasing amount of valence-loaded scientific jargon, as previously observed in earlier studies.

Moreover, our results reveal that the positive emotional content of abstracts is increasing in a way that cannot be accounted for by the increase in text length, which has also been observed in the same time period. There were small differences between scientific disciplines. A detailed analysis of the distribution of valence-loaded scientific jargon within abstracts reveals a strong concentration towards the end of the text.

We discuss these results in light of psychological evidence relating positive emotions with the propensity to overestimate the value of information to inform judgment and the increase in the competition for attention due to a pressure to publish.

URL : Presence and consequences of positive words in scientific abstracts


Growth rates of modern science: a latent piecewise growth curve approach to model publication numbers from established and new literature databases

Authors : Lutz Bornmann, Robin Haunschild, Rüdiger Mutz

Growth of science is a prevalent issue in science of science studies. In recent years, two new bibliographic databases have been introduced, which can be used to study growth processes in science from centuries back: Dimensions from Digital Science and Microsoft Academic.

In this study, we used publication data from these new databases and added publication data from two established databases (Web of Science from Clarivate Analytics and Scopus from Elsevier) to investigate scientific growth processes from the beginning of the modern science system until today.

We estimated regression models that included simultaneously the publication counts from the four databases. The results of the unrestricted growth of science calculations show that the overall growth rate amounts to 4.10% with a doubling time of 17.3 years. As the comparison of various segmented regression models in the current study revealed, models with four or five segments fit the publication data best.

We demonstrated that these segments with different growth rates can be interpreted very well, since they are related to either phases of economic (e.g., industrialization) and/or political developments (e.g., Second World War).

In this study, we additionally analyzed scientific growth in two broad fields (Physical and Technical Sciences as well as Life Sciences) and the relationship of scientific and economic growth in UK.

The comparison between the two fields revealed only slight differences. The comparison of the British economic and scientific growth rates showed that the economic growth rate is slightly lower than the scientific growth rate.

URL : Growth rates of modern science: a latent piecewise growth curve approach to model publication numbers from established and new literature databases


Dissimuler ou disséminer ? Une étude sur le sort réservé aux résultats négatifs

Auteures/Authors : Marie-Emilia Herbet, Jérémie Leonard, Maria Santangelo, Lucie Albaret

Une enquête composée de 34 questions a été adressée à des chercheurs en chimie, physique, sciences de l’ingénieur et de l’environnement, en vue d’identifier leur rapport aux résultats de recherche infructueux ainsi que les freins et les leviers de leur diffusion.

L’étude se fonde sur 310 réponses complètes émanant de participants affiliés à des établissements de recherche et d’enseignement français. Menée dans le cadre du projet Datacc, porté par les bibliothèques universitaires de Lyon et Grenoble Alpes, engagées dans l’accompagnement des chercheurs à l’ouverture des données de recherche, notre étude permet de combler le déficit de données sur le sujet au regard des disciplines concernées.

Elle relève que 81% des chercheurs interrogés ont déjà produit des résultats négatifs pertinents et 75% se disent prêts à publier ce type de données. Pourtant, seuls 12,5% des répondants ont déjà eu l’occasion de le faire dans une revue scientifique. Ce contraste béant entre l’intention et la pratique soulève des interrogations sur les obstacles en présence et les solutions potentielles à apporter.

URL : Dissimuler ou disséminer ? Une étude sur le sort réservé aux résultats négatifs

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Data sharing policies of journals in life, health, and physical sciences indexed in Journal Citation Reports

Authors : Jihyun Kim, Soon Kim, Hye-Min Cho, Jae Hwa Chang, Soo Young Kim


Many scholarly journals have established their own data-related policies, which specify their enforcement of data sharing, the types of data to be submitted, and their procedures for making data available.

However, except for the journal impact factor and the subject area, the factors associated with the overall strength of the data sharing policies of scholarly journals remain unknown.

This study examines how factors, including impact factor, subject area, type of journal publisher, and geographical location of the publisher are related to the strength of the data sharing policy.


From each of the 178 categories of the Web of Science’s 2017 edition of Journal Citation Reports, the top journals in each quartile (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4) were selected in December 2018. Of the resulting 709 journals (5%), 700 in the fields of life, health, and physical sciences were selected for analysis.

Four of the authors independently reviewed the results of the journal website searches, categorized the journals’ data sharing policies, and extracted the characteristics of individual journals.

Univariable multinomial logistic regression analyses were initially conducted to determine whether there was a relationship between each factor and the strength of the data sharing policy.

Based on the univariable analyses, a multivariable model was performed to further investigate the factors related to the presence and/or strength of the policy.


Of the 700 journals, 308 (44.0%) had no data sharing policy, 125 (17.9%) had a weak policy, and 267 (38.1%) had a strong policy (expecting or mandating data sharing). The impact factor quartile was positively associated with the strength of the data sharing policies.

Physical science journals were less likely to have a strong policy relative to a weak policy than Life science journals (relative risk ratio [RRR], 0.36; 95% CI [0.17–0.78]). Life science journals had a greater probability of having a weak policy relative to no policy than health science journals (RRR, 2.73; 95% CI [1.05–7.14]).

Commercial publishers were more likely to have a weak policy relative to no policy than non-commercial publishers (RRR, 7.87; 95% CI, [3.98–15.57]). Journals by publishers in Europe, including the majority of those located in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, were more likely to have a strong data sharing policy than a weak policy (RRR, 2.99; 95% CI [1.85–4.81]).


These findings may account for the increase in commercial publishers’ engagement in data sharing and indicate that European national initiatives that encourage and mandate data sharing may influence the presence of a strong policy in the associated journals.

Future research needs to explore the factors associated with varied degrees in the strength of a data sharing policy as well as more diverse characteristics of journals related to the policy strength.

URL : Data sharing policies of journals in life, health, and physical sciences indexed in Journal Citation Reports


Authorship in top-ranked mathematical and physical journals: Role of gender on self-perceptions and bibliographic evidence

Authors : Helena Mihaljevi, Lucía Santamaría

Despite increasing rates of women researching in math-intensive fields, publications by female authors remain underrepresented. By analyzing millions of records from the dedicated bibliographic databases zbMATH, arXiv, and ADS, we unveil the chronological evolution of authorships by women in mathematics, physics, and astronomy.

We observe a pronounced shortage of female authors in top-ranked journals, with quasi-stagnant figures in various distinguished periodicals in the first two disciplines and a significantly more equitable situation in the latter.

Additionally, we provide an interactive open-access web interface to further examine the data. To address whether female scholars submit fewer articles for publication to relevant journals or whether they are consciously or unconsciously disadvantaged by the peer review system, we also study authors’ perceptions of their submission practices and analyze around 10,000 responses, collected as part of a recent global survey of scientists.

Our analysis indicates that men and women perceive their submission practices to be similar, with no evidence that a significantly lower number of submissions by women is responsible for their underrepresentation in top-ranked journals.

According to the self-reported responses, a larger number of articles submitted to prestigious venues correlates rather with aspects associated with pronounced research activity, a well-established network, and academic seniority.


Journal research data sharing policies: a study of highly-cited journals in neuroscience, physics, and operations research

Authors : Antti M. Rousi, Mikael Laakso

The practices for if and how scholarly journals instruct research data for published research to be shared is an area where a lot of changes have been happening as science policy moves towards facilitating open science, and subject-specific repositories and practices are established.

This study provides an analysis of the research data sharing policies of highly-cited journals in the fields of neuroscience, physics, and operations research as of May 2019. For these 120 journals, 40 journals per subject category, a unified policy coding framework was developed to capture the most central elements of each policy, i.e. what, when, and where research data is instructed to be shared.

The results affirm that considerable differences between research fields remain when it comes to policy existence, strength, and specificity. The findings revealed that one of the most important factors influencing the dimensions of what, where and when of research data policies was whether the journal’s scope included specific data types related to life sciences which have established methods of sharing through community-endorsed public repositories.

The findings surface the future research potential of approaching policy analysis on the publisher-level as well as on the journal-level. The collected data and coding framework is provided as open data to facilitate future research and journal policy monitoring.