Cross-national differences complicate allocation of credit and responsibility
Scientific research is increasingly international in scope and practice. Worldwide, the percentage of science and engineering research articles with authors from more than one country increased from 8 percent in 1988 to 22 percent in 2007, according to the 2010 Science and Engineering Indicators compiled by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Rates of international collaboration as defined in the Indicators are 20 to 30 percent in the United States, China, Japan and India, but around 50 percent in the European Union, in part because recent EU policies and incentives favor international collaboration.
As we consider authorship issues that arise in these collaborative ventures, we draw on our own and our colleagues’ work in the recently published book International Research Collaborations: Much to be Gained, Many Ways to Get in Trouble and our ongoing research on international scientific collaborations. Specifically, we use material from 10 focus groups and 60 interviews that we conducted over the past year with scientists in the U.S. (and a few outside the U.S.) who are involved in cross-national research collaborations. When we asked these scientists about problematic and beneficial aspects of international research, we inevitably heard about issues with authorship and publication.