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The many hands of science: Commonalities and differences in the research contributions of authors and subauthors
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2017 (English)In: Aslib Journal of Information Management, ISSN 2050-3806, E-ISSN 2050-3814, Vol. 69, no 5, p. 591-606Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to identify the research contributions of authors and subauthors in order to outline how authorship, as opposed to acknowledgment, is awarded in the lab-based life sciences.

Design/methodology/approach - The work tasks described in author contribution statements and acknowledgments sections of research articles published in Nature Chemical Biology were classified according to a three-layered taxonomy: core layer; middle layer; outer layer.

Findings - Most authors are core or middle layer contributors, i.e. they perform at least one core or middle layer task. In contrast, most subauthors are outer layer contributors. While authors tend to be involved in several tasks, subauthors tend to make single contributions. The small but significant share of authors performing only outer layer tasks suggests a disconnect in author attribution between traditional author guidelines and scientific practice. A level of arbitrariness in whether a contributor is awarded authorship or subauthorship status is reported. However, this does not implicate first or last authorships.

Research limitations/implications - Data from one journal only are used. Transferability is limited to research in high impact journals in the lab-based life sciences.

Originality/value - The growth in scientific collaboration underlines the importance of gaining a deeper understanding of the distinction between authorship and subauthorship in terms of the types of research contributions that they de facto represent. By utilizing hitherto unexplored data sources this study addresses a gap in the literature, and gives an important insight into the reward system of science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD , 2017. Vol. 69, no 5, p. 591-606
Keywords [en]
Authorship, Collaboration, Bibliometrics, Contributorship, Acknowledgements, Subauthorship
National Category
Information Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-141838DOI: 10.1108/AJIM-01-2017-0012ISI: 000413875800009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-141838DiVA, id: diva2:1160208
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Available from: 2017-11-24 Created: 2017-11-24 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Sundling, Pär

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