, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 1939–1963 | Cite as

What is co-authorship?

  • Branco Ponomariov
  • Craig Boardman


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.


Co-authorship Research collaboration Bibliometrics 


  1. Abramo, G., D’Angelo, C. A., Di Costa, F., & Solazzi, M. (2009). University-industry collaboration in Italy: A bibliometric examination. Technovation, 29(6–7), 498–507. doi: 10.1016/j.technovation.2008.11.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, J. D., Black, G. C., Clemmons, J. R., & Stephan, P. E. (2005). Scientific teams and institutional collaborations: Evidence from U.S. universities, 1981–1999. Research Policy, 34(3), 259–285. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2005.01.014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adams, J. D., Grant, C., Clemmons, R., & Stephan, P. E. (2003). Patterns of Research Collaboration in US Universities, 19811999. Paper presented at the AAAS Meetings, Denver, CO.Google Scholar
  4. Batista, P. D., Campiteli, M. G., & Kinouchi, O. (2006). Is it possible to compare researchers with different scientific interests? Scientometrics, 68(1), 179–189.Google Scholar
  5. Beaver, D. D. (2001). Reflections on scientific collaboration, (and its study): Past, present, and future. Scientometrics, 52(3), 365–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beaver, D., & Rosen, R. (1978). Studies in scientific collaboration—Part I. The professional origins of scientific co-authorship. Scientometrics, 1(1), 65–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Biagioli, M. (2003). Rights or rewards? Changing frameworks of scientific authorship. In M. Biagioli & P. Galison (Eds.), Scientific authorship: Credit and intellectual property in science. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Biagioli, M., & Galison, P. (2003). Scientific authorship: Credit and intellectual property in science. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Birnholtz, J. P. (2005). When do researchers collaborate? Toward a model of collaboration propensity in science and engineering research. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  10. Block, F., & Keller, M. R. (2009). Where do innovations come from? Transformations in the US economy, 1970–2006. Socio-Economic Review, 7(3), 459–483. doi: 10.1093/ser/mwp013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boardman, P. C. (2009). Government centrality to university-industry interactions: University research centers and the industry involvement of academic researchers. Research Policy, 38(10), 1505–1516. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2009.09.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boardman, P. C., & Bozeman, B. (2006). The emergence and impact of ‘organic’ research collaboration. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 15(1), 51–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boardman, P. C., & Corley, E. A. (2008). University research centers and the composition of research collaborations. Research Policy, 37(5), 900–913. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2008.01.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Boardman, P. C., & Ponomariov, B. L. (2009). University researchers working with private companies. Technovation, 29(2), 142–153. doi: 10.1016/j.technovation.2008.03.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bordons, M., & Gomez, I. (2000). Collaboration networks in science web of knowledge—A Festschrift in honor of Eugene Garfield (pp. 197–213). Medford: Information Today Inc.Google Scholar
  16. Bozeman, B., & Corley, E. (2004). Scientists’ collaboration strategies: Implications for scientific and technical human capital. Research Policy, 33(4), 599–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bozeman, B., Dietz, J. S., & Gaughan, M. (2001). Scientific and technical human capital: An alternative model for research evaluation. International Journal of Technology Management, 22(7–8), 716–740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bozeman, B., Fay, D., & Slade, C. P. (2012). Research collaboration in universities and academic entrepreneurship: The-state-of-the-art. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 38(1), 1–67. doi: 10.1007/s10961-012-9281-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Bozeman, B., & Youtie, J. (2015). Trouble in paradise: Problems in academic research co-authoring. Science and Engineering Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s11948-015-9722-5.Google Scholar
  20. Butcher, J., & Jeffrey, P. (2005). The use of bibliometric indicators to explore industry–academia collaboration trends over time in the field of membrane use for water treatment. Technovation, 25(11), 1273–1280. doi: 10.1016/j.technovation.2004.06.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Corley, E., Boardman, P. C., & Bozeman, B. (2006). Design and the management of multi-institutional research collaborations: Theoretical Implications from two case studies. Research Policy, 35(7), 975–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Drenth, J. H. (1998). Multiple authorship: The contribution of senior authors. JAMA, 280(3), 219–221. doi: 10.1001/jama.280.3.219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Flanagin, A., Fontanarosa, P. B., & DeAngelis, C. D. (2002). Authorship for research groups. JAMA, 288(24), 3166–3168. doi: 10.1001/jama.288.24.3166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2004). Analysing scientific networks through co-authorship. In H. Moed, W. Glänzel & U. Schmoch (Eds.), Handbook of quantitative science and technology research (pp. 257–276). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  25. Glaser, J., & Laudel, G. (2001). Integrating scientometric indicators into sociological studies: methodical and methodological problems. Scientometrics, 52(3), 411–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gordon, M. (1980). A critical reassessment of inferred relations between multiple authorship, scientific collaboration, the production of papers and their acceptance for publication. Scientometrics, 2, 193–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guston, D. H. (2000). Between politics and science: Assuring the integrity and productivity of research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hagedoorn, J., Link, A. N., & Vonortas, N. S. (2000). Research partnerships. Research Policy, 29(4–5), 567–586. doi: 10.1016/s0048-7333(99)00090-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hagstrom, W. O. (1965). The scientific community. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  30. Harsanyi, M. A. (1993). Multiple authors, multiple problems bibliometrics and the study of scholarly collaboration—A literature-review. Library & Information Science Research, 15(4), 325–354.Google Scholar
  31. Jeong, S., Choi, J., & Kim, J. (2011). The determinants of research collaboration modes: Exploring the effects of research and researcher characteristics on co-authorship. Scientometrics, 89(3), 967–983. doi: 10.1007/s11192-011-0474-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Katz, J. S., & Martin, B. R. (1997). What is research collaboration? Research Policy, 26(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kingsley, Gordon, Bozeman, Barry, & Coker, Karen. (1996). Technology transfer and absorption: An ‘R & D value-mapping’ approach to evaluation. Research Policy, 25(6), 967–995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kreiner, K., & Schultz, M. (1993). Informal collaboration in research-and-development—The formation of networks across organizations. Organization Studies, 14(2), 189–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Laudel, G. (2001). Collaboration, creativity and rewards: why and how scientists collaborate. International Journal of Technology Management, 22(7–8), 762–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Laudel, G. (2002). What do we measure by co-authorships? Research Evaluation, 11(1), 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lundberg, G. D., & Glass, R. M. (1996). WHat does authorship mean in a peer-reviewed medical journal? JAMA, 276(1), 75. doi: 10.1001/jama.1996.03540010077036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lundberg, J., Tomson, G., Lundkvist, I., Skar, J., & Brommels, M. (2006). Collaboration uncovered: Exploring the adequacy of measuring university-industry collaboration through co-authorship and funding. Scientometrics, 69(3), 575–589. doi: 10.1007/s11192-006-0170-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Melin, G. (2000). Pragmatism and self-organization—Research collaboration on the individual level. Research Policy, 29(1), 31–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Melin, G., & Persson, O. (1996). Studying research collaboration using co-authorships. Scientometrics, 36(3), 363–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mullins, N. C. (1973). Science: Some sociological perspectives. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  42. Narin, F., & Whitlow, E. S. (1991). Measurement of scientific cooperation and coauthorship in CEC-related areas of science: Commission of the European Communities Directorate-General Telecommunications. Luxembourg: Information Industries and Innovation.Google Scholar
  43. Newman, M. E. (2004). Coauthorship networks and patterns of scientific collaboration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101(Suppl 1), 5200–5205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ponomariov, B., & Boardman, P. C. (2008). The effect of informal industry contacts on the time university scientists allocate to collaborative research with industry. Journal of Technology Transfer, 33(3), 301–313. doi: 10.1007/s10961-007-9029-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ponomariov, B. L., & Boardman, P. C. (2010). Influencing scientists’ collaboration and productivity patterns through new institutions: University research centers and scientific and technical human capital. Research Policy, 39(5), 613–624. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2010.02.013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Porter, A. L., Roessner, J. D., Cohen, A. S., & Perreault, M. (2006). Interdisciplinary research: meaning, metrics and nurture. Research Evaluation, 15(3), 187–195. doi: 10.3152/147154406781775841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Price, D. J. D., & Beaver, D. D. (1966). Collaboration in an invisible college. American Psychologist, 21(11), 1011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Qiu, L. (1992). A study of interdisciplinary research collaboration. Research Evaluation, 2(3), 169–175. doi: 10.1093/rev/2.3.169.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rennie, D., Yank, V., & Emanuel, L. (1997). When authorship fails: A proposal to make contributors accountable. JAMA, 278(7), 579–585. doi: 10.1001/jama.1997.03550070071041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Riesenberg, D., & Lundberg, G. D. (1990). The order of authorship: Who’s on first? JAMA, 264(14), 1857. doi: 10.1001/jama.1990.03450140079039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shapiro, D. W., Wenger, N. S., & Shapiro, M. F. (1994). THe contributions of authors to multiauthored biomedical research papers. JAMA, 271(6), 438–442. doi: 10.1001/jama.1994.03510300044036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sonnenwald, D. H. (2007). Scientific collaboration. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 41(1), 643–681. doi: 10.1002/aris.2007.1440410121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Subramanyam, K. (1983). Bibliometric studies of research collaboration: A review. Journal Of Information Science, 6(1), 33–38. doi: 10.1177/016555158300600105.Google Scholar
  54. Traoré, N., & Landry, R. (1997). On the determinants of scientists’ collaboration. Science Communication, 19(2), 124–140. doi: 10.1177/1075547097019002002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Van Raan, A. (1998). The influence of international collaboration on the impact of research results: Some simple mathematical considerations concerning the role of self-citations. Scientometrics, 42(3), 423–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wang, Y., Wu, Y., Pan, Y., Ma, Z., & Rousseau, R. (2005). Scientific collaboration in China as reflected in co-authorship. Scientometrics, 62(2), 183–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wray, K. B. (2002). The epistemic significance of collaborative research. Philosophy of Science, 69(1), 150–168. doi: 10.1086/338946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316(5827), 1036–1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yan, E., & Guns, R. (2014). Predicting and recommending collaborations: An author-, institution-, and country-level analysis. Journal of Informetrics, 8(2), 295–309. doi: 10.1016/j.joi.2014.01.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yoshikane, F., & Kageura, K. (2004). Comparative analysis of coauthorship networks of different domains: The growth and change of networks. Scientometrics, 60(3), 433–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public AdministrationUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Center for Organization Research & DesignPhoenixUSA

Personalised recommendations