Study objective: The primary objective was to analyze the relationship between the citation rate of an article and the extent of collaboration. The secondary objective was to analyze the relationship between the number of authors/article and the number of institutions/article for the period of study.
Methods: We counted the number of original research articles published in six leading journals--Cell, Science, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and Journal of the American Medical Association--for the years 1975, 1985, and 1995. For each article, we determined the number of authors and the number of separate institutions. We also determined the number of times each article that was published in 1995 was cited in future scientific articles from the Science Citation Index database.
Results: Science, Cell, Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and Journal of the American Medical Association had 2014, 868, 3856, 643, 785, and 465 total articles published/3-year study period, respectively. There was a median of 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, and 3 institutions/article, respectively. All of the final models had a significant linear author component for which all of the parameter estimates were positive, yet variable. Thus, the number of times an article was cited correlated significantly with the number of authors and the number of institutions.
Conclusion: A correlation exists between the number of authors and the number of times an article is cited in other articles. Investigators who are open to collaborations and those who seem to adequately manage those collaborations produce a superior product that results in a higher impact.