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Team Effort

Team science has become more of the norm in a number of branches of science, a review on the science of science noted last month.

Albert-László Barabási from Central European University in Budapest and his colleagues wrote in Science in March that, in 1955, the number of papers that came out from teams of scientists and engineers equaled those published by single authors. But by 2013, 90 percent of papers were from teams. They further added that the size of the teams is growing by some 17 percent with each passing decade.

This prompted Michael Lauer, the deputy director for extramural research at the National Institutes of Health, to take a look at his own numbers. At his Open Mike blog, he writes that the number of authors on papers funded by NIH research grants has also been increasing over time, from about four in 1995 to six in 2017. He too notes that papers with higher author counts also tend to be more highly cited.

"It is important to understand that, even in this competitive funding environment, research is shifting to teams," Lauer writes. "And when we look more closely at the impact of the shift, we see that collaboration is proving to move science forward in important ways."

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