Bibliometric research: Journals

Publish or Perish tutorial

In addition to calculating the impact of specific journals or articles, Publish or Perish can also be used to compare a specific set of journals on a number of characteristics or test specific hypotheses on topics such as research collaborations.

Country differences in co-authorship patterns

Let’s assume for instance that I want to test the hypothesis that, on average, North Americans tend to publish more co-authored papers than Europeans. I could conduct a large-scale comparison of North American versus European academics. However, that would be quite time-consuming.

Use journal-level stats to investigate authorship patterns

I can also investigate this on a journal level, as it has been well established that North American journals tend to have a larger proportion of North American authors, whilst European journals have a large proportion of European authors. This tends to be true in any discipline, but it is certainly the case the Social Sciences and Humanities whose research topics tend to be more location-bound than the Sciences.

Accounting: on average articles in US journals have more co-authors

Taking Accounting journals as an example, of the six ISI-listed journals, four are North America (JAR, AR, CAR and RAS), whilst the remaining two journals Accounting, Organizations and Society and European Accounting Review are European. As shown in the screenshot below, with Publish or Perish statistics exported to Excel, co-authorship patterns do indeed differ between the North American (2.07-2.34 authors per paper) and the European journals (1.71-1.87 authors per paper).


The same pattern is found in other disciplines

Of course this is only a very small sample of journals, but one could easily expand this to other journals in Accounting or Business in general and the same general pattern will be likely to be found. For instance, if one compares Organization Science and Organization Studies, two journals in the field of Management with a very similar research domain, I find that, on average, the US-based journal has a larger number of authors per paper than the European journal, even when the latters many single-authored book reviews are excluded.

Co-authorship patterns across disciplines and time

This same strategy can also be used to compare co-authorship patterns across disciplines and time. One could for instance take the top-3 journals in every discipline and calculate co-authorship patterns, rather than having to rely on a sample of academics in these disciplines. Doing this, one could not just look at the average number of authors per paper, but also at the number of paper with 1, 2, 3, and more authors as well as the modal number of authors per paper.

Different co-authorship patterns in Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities

A very small-scale comparison looking at co-authorship patterns for articles published in the above two Management journals between 1995-2014 with two top journals in the Sciences and the Humanities already shows very interesting results.


Modal number of authors varies from 1 to 5 across disciplines

Whilst in the Humanities sole authorship is the norm, in the Sciences papers typically have a much larger number of authors. Management – as one of the Social Sciences – falls between these extremes, but is much closer to the Humanities than to the Sciences.

Knowledge of disciplinary differences can help in promotion case

Obviously, these results can be useful if one wants to make a case for promotion to a panel that is comprised of academics from different disciplines. It helps to explain why it is not realistic to expect the same number of publications from academics in the Social Sciences and Humanities as from academics in the Sciences.

Number of co-authors is increasing over time for all disciplines

Another hypothesis that we could test is whether the number of co-authors tends to increase over time, reflecting the more collaborative nature of academic research and publishing in more recent times. The table above clearly shows that, even though the modal number of authors hasn’t changed for most journals, overall there has been an increase in the number of authors per paper over time for all three disciplines.

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