New Global Research Report from the Institute for Scientific Information examines impact of multi-authorship on citations

Clarivate Analytics
2019-12-04 16:00 335

National agencies and academic institutions must be wary of potentially erratic citation patterns from hyper-authored papers that can distort research management analysis

LONDON and PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report released today by the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate Analytics identifies a growing number of research articles in the Web of Science with 1,000 or more unique authors across more than 100 different countries. Multi-authorship and research analytics examines the effects of complex and hyper-authorship by author, country, and discipline. 

The report argues that data resulting from articles with hyper-authorship, beyond 100 authors and/or 30 countries, produces such erratic, even potentially distorting outcomes, that it should be removed from analysis at a national and institutional level.

The report also describes the combination of many authors plus many countries as driving a complex authorship pattern that differs from more typical academic papers and leads to elevated citation rates. One additional country on an article has a greater citation benefit than one additional author, and author count is linked to a slight but continuous impact rise whereas country count is linked to a steeper impact rise.

The report also finds:

  • Complex authorship (many people, many countries) has continued to rise in the last five years with the dramatic emergence of articles with more than 100 countries
  • The most frequent number of authors on an article is three and 95% of articles analyzed (14.9 million) have ten or fewer authors
  • Author count is linked to a slight but continuous impact rise in Category Normalized Citation Impact (CNCI)
  • 99% of articles have authors from five or fewer countries
  • Country count is linked to a steeper and more erratic impact rise in CNCI

Dr Jonathan Adams, Director, Institute for Scientific Information, Web of Science Group said: "A small but growing number of hyper-authored research articles are driving seriously elevated citation rates and may skew any impact analysis of the scientific literature. 

"In Multi-authorship and research analytics we recommend that: articles with more than ten authors should be acknowledged and separately described because they will influence interpretation; and articles with hyper-authorship be treated differently with a strong argument for removing these data from all analyses at a national and institutional level." 

The report acknowledges that author and impact patterns can vary hugely between disciplines. For example, the Biomedical sciences appear commonly now to require large teams whereas Physics is both rooted in smaller, traditional teams whilst also supporting work dependent on massive hyper-collaboration. 

About the Web of Science Group

The Web of Science Group, a Clarivate Analytics company, organizes the world's research information to enable academia, corporations, publishers and governments to accelerate the pace of research. It is powered by the Web of Science – the world's largest publisher-neutral citation index and research intelligence platform. Its many well-known brands also include Converis, EndNote, Kopernio, Publons, ScholarOne and the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). The 'university' of the Web of Science Group, ISI maintains the knowledge corpus upon which the index and related information and analytical content and services are built; it disseminates that knowledge externally through events, conferences and publications and it carries out research to sustain, extend and improve the knowledge base. For more information, please visit

About the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) is the 'university' of the Web of Science Group at Clarivate Analytics. It maintains the knowledge corpus upon which the Web of Science and related information and analytical content, products and services are built; it disseminates that knowledge externally through events, conferences and publications and it carries out research to sustain, extend and improve the knowledge base.

About Clarivate Analytics

Clarivate Analytics™ is a global leader in providing trusted insights and analytics to accelerate the pace of innovation. We have built some of the most trusted brands across the innovation lifecycle, including the Web of Science™, Cortellis™, Derwent™, CompuMark™, MarkMonitor™ and Techstreet™. Today, Clarivate Analytics is on a bold entrepreneurial mission to help customers reduce the time from new ideas to life-changing innovations. For more information, please visit

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Source: Clarivate Analytics
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