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What is co-authorship?


  • Branco Ponomariov

    () (University of Texas at San Antonio)

  • Craig Boardman

    () (Center for Organization Research & Design)


Science and technology policy academics and evaluators use co-authorship as a proxy for research collaboration despite knowing better. Anecdotally we understand that an individual might be listed as an author on a particular publication for numerous reasons other than research collaboration. Yet because of the accessibility and other advantages of bibliometric data, co-authorship is continuously used as a proxy for research collaboration. In this study, a national (US) sample of academic researchers was asked about their relationships with their closest research collaborators—some with whom respondents reported having co-authored and some with whom respondents reported not co-authoring. The results suggest there are numerous dimensions of co-authorship, the most influential of which is informal and relational and with little (directly) to do with intellectual and/or other resource contributions. Implications for theory and practice are discussed. Generally we advise academics and evaluators interested in tracking co-authorship as a proxy for collaboration to collect additional data beyond those available from popular bibliometric resources because such information means better-informed modeling and better-informed policy and management decision making.

Suggested Citation

  • Branco Ponomariov & Craig Boardman, 2016. "What is co-authorship?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 109(3), pages 1939-1963, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:109:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-016-2127-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-016-2127-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Valeria Aman, 2018. "A new bibliometric approach to measure knowledge transfer of internationally mobile scientists," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(1), pages 227-247, October.
    3. Gómez-Ferri, Javier & González-Alcaide, Gregorio & LLopis-Goig, Ramón, 2019. "Measuring dissatisfaction with coauthorship: An empirical approach based on the researchers’ perception," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4).
    4. Georg, Co-Pierre & Opolot, Daniel & Rose, Michael, 2019. "Discussants," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203575, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Paul-Hus, Adèle & Mongeon, Philippe & Sainte-Marie, Maxime & Larivière, Vincent, 2017. "The sum of it all: Revealing collaboration patterns by combining authorship and acknowledgements," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 80-87.
    6. Nataliya Matveeva & Anuška Ferligoj, 0. "Scientific collaboration in Russian universities before and after the excellence initiative Project 5-100," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-25.
    7. Mengjiao Qi & An Zeng & Menghui Li & Ying Fan & Zengru Di, 2017. "Standing on the shoulders of giants: the effect of outstanding scientists on young collaborators’ careers," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 111(3), pages 1839-1850, June.
    8. Zheng Xie, 2019. "A cooperative game model for the multimodality of coauthorship networks," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 121(1), pages 503-519, October.

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