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When Authorship Isn't Enough: Lessons from CERN on the Implications of Formal and Informal Credit Attribution Mechanisms in Collaborative Research

Friday, February 15, 2008


As research collaborations grow in size, scope, and time horizon, they increasingly resemble organizations in and of themselves. The traditional institutional structure of science, however, is fundamentally focused on individual scientists. Reconciling these novel research organizations with traditional structures has proven a difficult challenge for the high energy physics community, which has a longstanding tradition of large collaborations. In this paper I draw on interview data gathered in this community to explore the issues of authorship and credit attribution, with an eye toward extrapolating lessons for those in other disciplines. Results suggest that authorship practices in physics are fundamentally problematic in several respects, and that this stems in part from a need to recognize multiple types of contributions.

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