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Journal Article

Patterns of Name Ordering Among Authors of Scientific Papers: A Study of Social Symbolism and Its Ambiguity

Harriet A. Zuckerman
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 74, No. 3 (Nov., 1968), pp. 276-291
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2775535
Page Count: 16
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Patterns of Name Ordering Among Authors of Scientific Papers: A Study of Social Symbolism and Its Ambiguity
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Abstract

With increasing scientific collaboration, visibility of individual role-performance has diminished. Ordering of author's names is an adaptive device which symbolizes their relative contributions to research. Interviews with Nobel laureates and comparisons of their name-order practices to those of other scientists suggests that this symbol is ambiguos and makes evaluation of individual role-performance difficult. A probability model of expected distributions of name orders is used in measuring preferences for particular sequences, and these preferences vary with the authors' eminence. On the assumption that authors' names are listed in order of the value of their contributions, laureates should be first-authors more often than other scientists; in fact, they are not. Instead, they exercise their noblesse oblige by giving credit to less eminent co-workers increasigly as their eminence grows. They do so more often after the prize, and eminent laureates-to-be forego first-authorship more foten than those as yet unrecognized. This noblesse oblige, however, has its limits; laureates' contributions to prize-winning research are more visible than contributions to thier other research.

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