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Collaboration or Competition? The Pros and Cons of Co-Authorship in Science




In recent years, the number of authors per scientific publication has been increasing. A study conducted by Liu, Olivola, and Kovács using data from Web of Science confirms that the average number of authors in published papers has steadily and continuously increased over the last four decades1. Another study by Evolutionary Science Consultant states that very few research articles have only one or two authors, and the average number of authors on articles in PubMed is five.


The trend of increasing co-authorship is likely due to the growing complexity of scientific research, which often requires interdisciplinary collaboration. However, this trend has also led to some ethical issues surrounding authorship. For example, some researchers may be added to a paper as an author even if they did not contribute significantly to the research. This practice, known as “gift authorship,” can lead to inflated publication counts and undermine the value of authorship.


Despite these concerns, co-authorship remains an important aspect of scientific research. Collaborative research can lead to more innovative and impactful discoveries, and it can also help to build relationships between researchers from different fields and institutions. However, it is important to ensure that authorship is assigned fairly and accurately, and that all contributors are recognized for their contributions.


In conclusion, the average number of authors per scientific publication has been increasing over the years, and this trend is likely to continue as scientific research becomes more interdisciplinary and complex. While co-authorship has many benefits, it is important to ensure that authorship is assigned fairly and accurately, and that all contributors are recognized for their contributions.


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