Co-authorship in the Humanities and Social Sciences

A global view

Our new white paper explores the experiences of co-authorship by researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).

Co-authorship, when two or more researchers collaborate on a published academic article, is normal in the Sciences and Medicine but has not been considered very common in HSS.

Is it still a minority of HSS articles that have more than one author? And are those researchers who do collaborate equipped for the associated challenges? This project, a collaboration with Professor Bruce Macfarlane at Bristol University, set out to answer these questions.

Our survey of 894 researchers, working in 62 countries, has found that:

Co-authorship is increasingly common: 74% of respondents reported that the typical number of authors per paper in their area of expertise is now two or more.

Researchers encounter problems attributing authorship fairly: The most common challenges of co-authorship related to the order in which author names should be listed and determining who should receive an authorship credit.

There is an authorship attribution ‘reality gap’: When compared with an ideal world, in practice too much weight is placed on being a senior ranked researcher, the supervisor of a doctoral student, or a research grant holder.

Few researchers receive guidance and training on authorship: Just 18% have received training or guidance from their institution in respect to determining academic authorship.

These survey results raise important questions for institutions, publishers, and scholarly societies about the role they can play in providing clear ethical guidance and training for HSS researchers and editors.

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