SciREX FS project open lecture: Authorship norms and project structures in science

February 9, 2016


Type Lecture
Intended for General public / Enrolled students / International students / Alumni / Companies / University students
Date(s) February 24, 2016 16:00 — 17:30
Location Hongo Area Campus
Venue Kojima Conference Room, 2nd floor, Economic Research Annex (Kojima Hall)
Capacity 60 people
Entrance Fee No charge
Registration Method Advance registration required
Contact STIG Office


Scientific authorship has become a contested terrain in contemporary science. Based on a survey of authors across fields, we measure the likelihood of guests (people who only made specialized contributions, such as data, materials, or funding) and ghosts (those who did significant work on the project but do not appear as authors) across different research contexts, including field, size of the project team, commercial orientation, impact level, and organization of the collaboration? We find that “guest” and “ghost” authors are common, with about one third of publications having at least one “guest” author and over half having at least one “ghost” author. We see significant cross-field variations in both overall rates and types of guest and ghost authors. We find there are generally fewer guest authors among highly cited papers, and more graduate student ghost authors in single location projects. The results suggest authorship practices vary across fields, and by project characteristics, making complicating the use of authorship lists as a basis for evaluation (especially when comparing across fields or types of projects). We discuss implications of these findings for interpreting author lists in the context of science policy.

(Lecturer's Profile)

Prof. John P. Walsh

John P. Walsh teaches and does research on science, technology and innovation, using a sociological perspective that focuses on organizations and work to explain how research organizations respond to changes in their policy environment. Recent work includes studies of university-industry linkages in the US and Japan, the effects of research tool patents on biomedical researchers and country and industry differences in the role of patents in firm strategy. His work has been published in Science, Research Policy, Social Studies of Science, and Management Science. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, the Matsushita Foundation and the Japan Foundation, and he has done consulting for the National Academy of Sciences, the OECD, the European Commission and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

*Simultaneous interpretation will be provided.

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