Harmonic Allocation of Authorship Credit : Source-Level Correction of Bibliometric Bias Assures Accurate Publication and Citation Analysis
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHagen, N.T. (2008). Harmonic allocation of authorship credit: source-level correction of bibliometric bias assures accurate publication and citation analysis. PLoS ONE, 3(12): e4021. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004021
Authorship credit for multi-authored scientific publications is routinely allocated either by issuing full publication credit repeatedly to all coauthors, or by dividing one credit equally among all coauthors. The ensuing inflationary and equalizing biases distort derived bibliometric measures of merit by systematically benefiting secondary authors at the expense of primary authors. Here I show how harmonic counting, which allocates credit according to authorship rank and the number of coauthors, provides simultaneous source-level correction for both biases as well as accommodating further decoding of byline information. I also demonstrate large and erratic effects of counting bias on the original h-index, and show how the harmonic version of the h-index provides unbiased bibliometric ranking of scientific merit while retaining the original’s essential simplicity, transparency and intended fairness. Harmonic decoding of byline information resolves the conundrum of authorship credit allocation by providing a simple recipe for source-level correction of inflationary and equalizing bias. Harmonic counting could also offer unrivalled accuracy in automated assessments of scientific productivity, impact and achievement.