Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fractions Are Hard

I see that the autism research community has vigorously taken up my challenge to publish an article in which the list of authors exceeds the length of the article’s content. The latest attempt, although not quite adequate, is nonetheless impressive: Autism symptoms in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Familial trait which Correlates with Conduct, Oppositional Defiant, Language and Motor Disorders (A. Mulligan, R. J. L. Anney, M. O’Regan, W. Chen, L. Butler, M. Fitzgerald, J. Buitelaar, H. Steinhausen, A. Rothenberger, R. Minderaa, J. Nijmeijer, P. J. Hoekstra, R. D. Oades, H. Roeyers, C. Buschgens, H. Christiansen, B. Franke, I. Gabriels, C. Hartman, J. Kuntsi, R. Marco, S. Meidad, U. Mueller, L. Psychogiou, N. Rommelse, M. Thompson, H. Uebel, T. Banaschewski, R. Ebstein, J. Eisenberg, I. Manor, A. Miranda, F. Mulas, J. Sergeant, E. Sonuga-Barke, P. Asherson, S. V. Faraone, M. Gill, 2008).

However, as an outsider, I am perplexed about one particular aspect of this practice. In the reckoning of publishing credit—the kind that can be cashed in for tenure, grants, editorial board appointments, offices with a nice view and so forth (the crucial matters in the field of autism research)—does an author get one full credit for having his or her name attached to such a lengthy list, or does the publishing credit get divided throughout the list’s members? Because if the latter, I am having a hard time understanding how 1/38th of a publishing credit can go very far. Speaking for myself, if I had to participate in thirty-eight such enterprises to earn one full credit, I might find it easier just to do some original work and write it up on my own.

Or am I being too naïve?

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