Measuring scientific contributions with modified fractional counting
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSivertsen, G., Rousseau, R. & Zhang, L. (2019). Measuring scientific contributions with modified fractional counting. Journal of Informetrics, 13(2), 679-694. 10.1016/j.joi.2019.03.010
We develop and propose a new counting method at the aggregate level for contributions to scientific publications called modified fractional counting (MFC). We show that, compared to traditional complete-normalized fractional counting, it eliminates the extreme differences in contributions over time that otherwise occur between scientists that mainly publish alone or in small groups and those that publish with large groups of co-authors. As an extra benefit we find that scientists in different areas of research turn out to have comparable average contributions to scientific articles. We test the method on scientists at Norway’s largest universities and find that, at an aggregate level, it indeed supports comparability across different co-authorship practices as well as between areas of research. MFC is thereby useful whenever the research output from institutions with different research profiles are compared, as e.g., in the Leiden Ranking. Finally, as MFC is actually a family of indicators, depending on a sensitivity parameter, it can be adapted to the circumstances.