Now I want to talk about of a new phenomenon that, professor Zen Faulkes, neuroethologist at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley coined, “kilo-author”. It’s related to the co-authorship of academic papers, when a great amount of authors are listed in the publish.
As a recent and famous example, this year, the team of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, publish a paper where 5.154 authors are listed. Guau!. But it’s not the only example, hundreds of articles now citing at least 1.000 authors, so it’s a current trend that researchers are increasingly likely to operate in large, multinational teams, and, it’s clear that, in this way, who is capable to make a correct peer-review? And who are capable to demonstrate that all the authors listed are really part of the research or really contributed in it? These are some of the questions I have read about this new trend.
In this way, this year, for the first time, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings will exclude any papers that have more than 1,000 authors, as they are considered to be “so freakish that they have the potential to distort the global scientific landscape”.
In the same way, such practices, along with mass authorship, seems to breach the so-called Vancouver rules on authorship, agreed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, but accepted more widely across academia, which state that an “author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work”.
But it’s a reality that the co-authorship grew every year, so I think that the Times Higher Education action, or seeing the Vancouver rules that are only recommendations, and so on, it’s not the solution.
It’s clear that the current research environment requires or recommend more collaboration between researchers, that the research is more international than years ago and the digital platforms and networks facilitate and encourage the multidisciplinary and collaborative work. This is a fact, so denying the evidence, I think that it’s not the solution, mainly when there’s many articles and studies that recommend the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work in research, included the European Union, encourage it!. Webs like CORDIS aims the international collaboration and so on.
Maybe the solution is to redefine some of the research policies and laws and recommendations, and to create, through the new technologies a new environment that facilitates and let to validate this news trends in research. So peer-review platforms, altmetrics, new ways to validate open-access and open-data and so on… there is obviously a really new scenario!! Are you agree??