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Unintended consequences of choosing coauthors

April 20, 2012 Filed under Blog, Featured, Publishing 

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I had been trying to track down this paper for several years. Finally, I was able to get my hands on it. Like many papers you get, they turn out to tell you something different than what you were hoping to hear. In this case, it was a pleasant surprise.

The principal result is that articles in four out of five journals had the number of coauthors being positively correlated with the number of significant words in their titles. That was interesting in of itself, but the implications that the author raised were the following:

…papers with longer titles will be retrieved more often than would be expected from a consideration only of their occurrence in the file they occupy. They will be “over-retrieved,” and papers with shorter titles will be “under-retrieved.” From the results reported here, it also follows that multi-author papers will be retrieved out of proportion to their share of the bibliographic data base in question.

Thus, the implication is that if you are hoping for your article to be found more frequently by search engines, then add more authors.

Kuch, T. D. C., 1978: Relation of title length to number of authors in journal articles. Journal of American Society for Information Science, 29 (4), 200–202.

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