Attributing credit to coauthors in academic publishing: The 1/n rule, parallelization, and team bonuses

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Universities looking to recruit or to rank researchers have to attribute credit scores to their academic publications. While they could use indexes, there remains the difficulty of coauthored papers. It is unfair to count an n-authored paper as one paper for each coauthor, i.e., as n papers added to the total: this is “feeding the multitude”. Sharing the credit among coauthors by percentages or by simply dividing by n (“1/n rule”) is fairer but somewhat harsh. Accordingly, we propose to take into account the productivity gains of parallelization by introducing a parallelization bonus that multiplies the credit allocated to each coauthor. It might be an idea for coauthors to indicate how they organized their work in producing the paper. However, they might systematically bias their answers. Fortunately, the number of parallel tasks is bounded by the number of coauthors because of specialization and the credit is bounded by a limiting Pareto maximum. Thus, the credit is given by (N+2)/3n for N parallel tasks. As there may be, at most, as many parallel tasks as co-authors, credit allocated to each coauthor is given by (n+2)/3n, that varies between 2/3 of a single-authored paper for two coauthors and 1/3 when the number of coauthors is very large. This is the “maximum parallelization credit” rule that we propose to apply. This new approach is feasible. It can be applied to past and present papers regardless of the agreement of publishing houses. It is fair and it rewards genuine cooperation in academic publishing.




de Mesnard, L. (2017). Attributing credit to coauthors in academic publishing: The 1/n rule, parallelization, and team bonuses. European Journal of Operational Research, 260(2), 778–788.

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