# On the impossibility of a perfect counting method to allocate the credits of multi-authored publications

## Abstract

The problem on how to distribute the publication credits among ordered coauthors has been extensively discussed in the literature. However, there is no consensus about what is the most adequate procedure. This paper studies the properties of the existing counting methods and shows an impossibility result regarding the existence of a general counting method able to satisfy no advantageous merging and no advantageous splitting simultaneously—two properties that we consider fundamental. Our results suggest that the generalized variations of the geometric and the harmonic counting methods are the most flexible and robust in theoretical terms.

## Keywords

Counting methods Properties Ordered coauthors Publication credits Bibliometrics## JEL Classification

C65 D04## Notes

### Acknowledgements

Author wish to thank to Juan Pablo Rincón-Zapatero and Ludo Waltman, as well as several seminar and congress participants for helpful comments and discussions. Financial support from the Spanish Ministerio of Ciencia y Innovación project ECO2016-75410-P, GRODE and the Barcelona GSE is gratefully acknowledged. The usual caveat applies.

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