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The impact of publications from mainland China on the trends in alphabetical authorship


This paper investigates the impact of burgeoning Chinese publication on academic alphabetical authorship in the 25 subject categories that have the highest percentage of intentionally alphabetical publications. The use of alphabetical authorship is common in the social sciences and humanities, mathematics, and in some physical disciplines. Chinese academic publication has increased rapidly in recent decades (Hong Kong and Macau were excluded from the study because Hong Kong and Macau are much more internationalized than mainland China). However, authors from mainland China do not prefer alphabetical authorship. The increase in publications from mainland China lowers the probability of intentional alphabetical authorship in the natural science and technology subject categories that we examined. In some natural science and technology categories, the influence is strong. But for the social sciences and humanities, the influence is weak, due to the lower share of world publications from mainland China. Yet, in some social science and humanities subject categories such as ‘Economics’, the relative share of publications from mainland China is increasing rapidly, and the results on alphabetical authorship trends will be felt in the near future.

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The authors thank Dr. Ludo Waltman and the anonymous referee for helpful suggestions. A Project Funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions. This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China under Grant 2011CBA00107.

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Correspondence to Hui Fang.

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Liu, X.Z., Fang, H. The impact of publications from mainland China on the trends in alphabetical authorship. Scientometrics 99, 865–879 (2014).

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  • Alphabetical authorship
  • Mainland China
  • Collaboration
  • World share of publications