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Pathogenic organization in science: Division of labor and retractions

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  • Walsh, John P.
  • Lee, You-Na
  • Tang, Li

Abstract

Science is increasingly a team activity, and the size of the teams has been growing. At the same time, there are concerns about an increasing rate of pathologies in science. The growth of team science suggests the need to look beyond individual-level explanations and focus on organizational structures and institutional contexts to explain pathologies in science. Drawing on the literature on organizational pathologies, we argue that division of labor may be a key factor contributing to pathologies in science. Furthermore, we examine the effects of high-stakes incentives and of institutional corruption as additional predictors of scientific pathologies. Using retractions as an indicator of pathologies, and drawing on a matched sample of 195 retracted papers and 349 paired papers that were not retracted, we develop indicators of the division of labor in the team that produced a paper and find that the rate of retractions is higher as the division of labor increases (net of team size). Additionally, we find that high-stakes incentives and institutional corruption are also associated with increased retractions. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for science policy, in particular for organizing team science projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Walsh, John P. & Lee, You-Na & Tang, Li, 2019. "Pathogenic organization in science: Division of labor and retractions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 444-461.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:48:y:2019:i:2:p:444-461
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.09.004
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    2. Anna Adamik & Michał Nowicki, 2019. "Pathologies and Paradoxes of Co-Creation: A Contribution to the Discussion about Corporate Social Responsibility in Building a Competitive Advantage in the Age of Industry 4.0," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(18), pages 1-38, September.
    3. Weishu Liu & Li Tang & Guangyuan Hu, 2020. "Funding information in Web of Science: an updated overview," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 122(3), pages 1509-1524, March.
    4. Haeussler, Carolin & Sauermann, Henry, 2020. "Division of labor in collaborative knowledge production: The role of team size and interdisciplinarity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(6).
    5. Weishu Liu, 2019. "The data source of this study is Web of Science Core Collection? Not enough," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 121(3), pages 1815-1824, December.
    6. Schaeffer, Véronique, 2019. "The use of material transfer agreements in academia: A threat to open science or a cooperation tool?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(9), pages 1-1.
    7. Krammer, Sorin M.S. & Belkouja, Mustapha & Yoon, David, 2019. "Research performance of teams in Business and Management: The impact of team size, knowledge diversity and international diversity," MPRA Paper 104548, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Jun 2019.
    8. Yuxian Liu & Yishan Wu & Sandra Rousseau & Ronald Rousseau, 0. "Reflections on and a short review of the science of team science," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-14.
    9. Horton, Joanne & Krishna Kumar, Dhanya & Wood, Anthony, 2020. "Detecting academic fraud using Benford law: The case of Professor James Hunton," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(8).

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