Co-authorship and productivity: insights from Parish et al. (2018)

The following is a selection of quotes from the following paper:

Parish AJ, Boyack KW, Ioannidis JPA (2018) Dynamics of co-authorship and productivity across different fields of scientific research. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0189742.

You can find here something I wrote co-authorship in the area of applied linguistics where I call for a re-evaluation of collaboration in this area.

Collaboration is now seen as essential to progress in scientific research, and over the past several decades large-scale collaborative projects have become increasingly frequent in fields as diverse as medicine, genetics, and high-energy physics. Although these large collaborations have received more media attention, collaboration on a smaller scale is also important for scientific productivity.

The average number of co-authors per paper published by individual scientists has steadily increased in all fields over the past century. The possible effect of collaboration on improving scientific efficiency and productivity is particularly appealing.

Increased collaboration has long been found to be associated with increased scientific productivity using individual researchers as the unit of study. Collaboration is also frequently mentioned as an important factor in scientists’ own reflections on their success.

A researcher’s productivity may also shape their future role in networks of co-authors, with greater scientific success and exposure allowing the researcher more opportunities to collaborate.

Highly collaborative authors also seem to cite more recently published articles and to re-cite (citing the same references in multiple papers) less frequently, and thus may dwell closer to and push the frontiers of research. International collaboration in particular seems to be strongly related to productivity, as measured by total publications.

Different scientific fields to possess distinguishing network characteristics, including average number of collaborators per author.

In one study of 36,211 Italian scientists, Abramo et al found that across scientific fields women have a slightly higher tendency to engage in collaboration, as measured by the fraction of publications resulting from collaboration.

Within biology, earth sciences, and social sciences, there is not a significant relationship between R and h-index in 2015. Additionally, the association is strongest for physicists. This particularly strong association makes sense given the growing number of large, high impact, intensely collaborative projects in experimental physics.