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Gasson, K., Herbert, R. & Ponsford, A. (2019). Fractional Authorship & Publication Productivity. ICSR Perspectives,




Authors divide their research output across publications, contributing via research collaborations

The trend is for authors to produce more publications per year (increased fractionalization) but for the overall number of publications per author to decrease

We suggest that the effort required to participate in research collaborations is a factor in the decrease in publications per author

Are authors collaborating more in response to the pressure to publish?

Growth in the number of scholarly publications each year has been well documented (e.g., Bornmann & Mutz, 2015, Figure 1). But how has that growth been achieved? Is it purely due to increasing investment in research, resulting in a greater number of active researchers? Or is each researcher producing more publications? To investigate these questions, we build on Plume & van Weijen’s (2014) previous work. The “publish or perish” research culture provides incentives for researchers to have long publication lists on their CVs, especially where those publications appear in highimpact journals (Tregoning, 2018). By examining authorship trends, we aim to understand if researchers are responding to the pressure to publish by fractionalizing themselves across more papers and whether this leads to more publication outputs overall. Does increasing collaboration enable each researcher to be involved with, and produce more, research? Researchers are motivated to enter into collaborations for many reasons; for instance, to gain access to samples, field sites, research facilities, or patient groups. Researchers wishing to study topics outside their own expertise require interdisciplinary collaborators or may simply look to find co-authors whose skills and knowledge complement their own. Evidence suggests that diverse research teams are more likely to be successful at problem solving (e.g., Phillips, Northcraft, & Neale, 2006) and that publications by collaborative teams benefit from a citation advantage (e.g., Glanzel, 2001). International collaboration has also been shown to drive publication growth (Adams, 2013).