March 4, 2021

WSJ: “How Many Scientists Does It Take to Write a Paper? Apparently, Thousands”

From The Wall Street Journal:

…there has been a notable spike since 2009 in the number of technical reports whose author counts exceeded 1,000 people, according to the Thomson Reuters Web of Science, which analyzed citation data. In the ever-expanding universe of credit where credit is apparently due, the practice has become so widespread that some scientists now joke that they measure their collaborators in bulk—by the “kilo-author.”

Earlier this year, a paper on rare particle decay published in Nature listed so many co-authors—about 2,700—that the journal announced it wouldn’t have room for them all in its print editions. And it isn’t just physics. In 2003, it took 272 scientists to write up the findings of the first complete human genome—a milestone in biology—but this past June, it took 1,014 co-authors to document a minor gene sequence called the Muller F element in the fruit fly.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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