Why are co-authored academic articles more cited: Higher quality or larger audience?
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AbstractCollaboration is encouraged because it is believed to improve academic research, supported by indirect evidence in the form of more co-authored articles being more cited. Nevertheless, this might not reflect quality but increased self-citations or the “audience effect”: citations from increased awareness through multiple author networks. We address this with the first science wide investigation into whether author numbers associate with journal article quality, using expert peer quality judgements for 122,331 articles from the 2014-20 UK national assessment. Spearman correlations between authors numbers and quality scores show moderately strong positive associations (0.2-0.4) in the health, life, and physical sciences, but weak or no positive associations in engineering and social sciences, with weak negative/positive or no association in various arts and humanities, and a possible negative association for decision sciences. This gives the first systematic evidence that greater numbers of authors associates with higher quality journal articles in the majority of academia outside the arts and humanities, at least for the UK. Positive associations between team size and citation counts in areas with little association between team size and quality also show that audience effects or other non-quality factors account for the higher citation rates of co-authored articles in some fields.
CitationThelwall, M., Kousha, K., Abdoli, M., Stuart, E., Makita, M., Wilson, P. and Levitt, J. (2023) Why are co-authored academic articles more cited: Higher quality or larger audience? Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 74(7), pp. 791–810. https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24755
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Description© 2023 The Authors. Published by Wiley and the Association for Information Science and Technology. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24755
SponsorsThis study was funded by Research England, Scottish Funding Council, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland as part of the Future Research Assessment Programme (https://www.jisc.ac.uk/future-research-assessment-programme).
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/