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Scientometrics. 2011 Jul;88(1):145-161. Epub 2011 Mar 20.

Do age and professional rank influence the order of authorship in scientific publications? Some evidence from a micro-level perspective.


Scientific authorship has important implications in science since it reflects the contribution to research of the different individual scientists and it is considered by evaluation committees in research assessment processes. This study analyses the order of authorship in the scientific output of 1,064 permanent scientists at the Spanish CSIC (WoS, 1994-2004). The influence of age, professional rank and bibliometric profile of scientists over the position of their names in the byline of publications is explored in three different research areas: Biology and Biomedicine, Materials Science and Natural Resources. There is a strong trend for signatures of younger researchers and those in the lower professional ranks to appear in the first position (junior signing pattern), while more veteran or highly-ranked ones, who tend to play supervisory functions in research, are proportionally more likely to sign in the last position (senior signing pattern). Professional rank and age have an effect on authorship order in the three fields analysed, but there are inter-field differences. Authorship patterns are especially marked in the most collaboration-intensive field (i.e. Biology and Biomedicine), where professional rank seems to be more significant than age in determining the role of scientists in research as seen through their authorship patterns, while age has a more significant effect in the least collaboration-intensive field (Natural Resources).

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