GRL Authorship Trends

Using data from the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), I have investigated reference section sizenumber of papers published, and title lengths. GRL publishes many of papers — more than 1000 per year for the past 15 years. Just from this single journal I have 33,391 records from 1974-2016 (downloaded on Oct. 9th 2016 from Web of Science). Because of its size and timespan, it serves as a good platform to look at authorship trends. This post expands on my work on authorship trends in JGR-ES.

First, a reminder that GRL publishes a lot of papers every year:


Now, let me break down this record of papers by number of authors. The figure below displays the percentage of papers in GRL each year for a given amount of authors:


There are several notable trends in the 40 year record:

  • The proportion of single author papers (blue) is substantially declining, from 30% to ~5%.
  • Two author papers (green) are also show a decrease, from ~40% to 15%.
  • Three author papers (red) are relatively constant through the record at ~20%
  • Papers with four or more authors (light blue) have exploded, now accounting for more than 60% of GRL publications (compared to 15-20% in the 1970’s)
  • Papers with 10 or more authors (purple)  are steadily increasing — from single digit percents to ~10%.

In addition, both the mean and median number of authors has increased for GRL:


This is broadly consistent with Engelder’s data on GEOLOGY authorship trends, which show increasing authorship and mean of 4 authors in 2007.

At the very top end of the authorship numbers — the maximum number of authors on a GRL paper per year also shows a slight upward trend: figure_3.jpeg


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