Managing Authorship in Chinese Research Organizations

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:18 PM
Room: 414
Oral Presentation
Xirong SHEN , Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Scientists put great stock in authorship as a form of universal recognition for originality in the profession of science. Yet, despite accounts of various authorship practices across disciplines and countries, scholarly literature has had little to say about how this professional norm emerge in research organizations in the advent of managerialism. This study, based on in-depth interviews with 26 research teams in two Chinese medical schools, explores into this question in by looking at the Chinese case. China has been characterized by its recent surge in scientific publications and an overwhelming “publish-or-perish” orientation in evaluating not only scientists but also institutions. The two medical schools, while both explicitly highlight “more, higher publication” in their organizational goals, have different incentive systems. Firstly, I compare the rules and discourses surrounding authorship in each research team within the two schools. Researchers invoked four distinct discourses on authorship: 1) “sponsorship of students” 2) “contribution-based distribution”, 3) “need-based distribution”, and 4) “fairness in the long-run.” In both schools, researchers regarded “sponsorship of students” and “contribution-based distribution” as institutional demands from the profession. However, more teams in one organization than the other made “sponsorship” an explicit rule, and “contribution” is defined differently in the two settings. “Need-based distribution” and “fairness in the long run” were characterized as innovations by some teams and enacted under certain conditions. Secondly, I examine three organizational factors that contribute to these differences: the incentive system of each organization, the hierarchy of each team, and finally the constraints and opportunities each team faces inside and outside of the organization. Depending on the organizational circumstances of each team, certain discourses about authorship prevailed while others were impeded, generating systematic difference at the organizational level.