Co-authorship and Collaboration: Resources for Feminist Scholars

  • Scholarly Sources

Kamal Badar, Julie M. Hite, and Yuosre F. Badir

Scientometrics (2013) 94: 755.

This research examines the association of co-authorship network centrality (degree, closeness and betweenness) and the academic research performance of chemistry researchers in Pakistan. Higher centrality in the co-authorship network is hypothesized to be positively related to performance, in terms of academic publication, with gender having a positive moderating effect for female researchers. Using social network analysis, this study examines the bibliometric data (2002–2009) from ISI Web of Science for the co-authorship network of 2,027 Pakistani authors publishing in the field of Chemistry. A non-temporal analysis using node-level regression reports positive impact of degree and closeness and negative impact of betweenness centrality on research performance. Temporal analysis using node-level regression (time 1: 2002–2005; time 2: 2006–2009) confirms the direction of causality and demonstrates the positive association of degree and closeness centrality on research performance. Findings indicate a moderating role of gender on the relationship of both degree and closeness centrality with research performance for Pakistani female authors.


Alison L. Bain and William J. Payne

Qualitative Research (2016), 16(3), 330–340.

This article critically examines the play of power in the co-production of scholarly knowledge in the context of a queer, feminist Participatory Action Research (PAR) project. By unpacking the power relations inherent in crafting a narrative of a collective project for a broader audience, we consider the conflicts, silences, and erasures that we experienced as participants, gatekeepers, and co-authors. We analyze iterations of a co-produced conference and journal article papers to recall the power dynamics that framed and reframed the outcomes of this project. In so doing, we critique what ‘co-’ and ‘with’ actually mean in the practice of publishing queer feminist PAR. We argue that there is an accelerating process of de-participation and exclusion that can work to erode the progressive, inclusive politics of feminist participatory methodologies.


Gill Coleman and Ann Rippin

Organization (2000), 7(4), 573–587.

This article describes an attempt to use a collaborative action research approach to enquire into the gender implications of seemingly neutral organizational practices, and thereby bring about change. The methodology draws on both the feminist critique of objective research, and thinking on participatory and action-oriented research strategies. Working with a work group in a manufacturing plant, a project was devised to establish a self-managing team on the shop-floor, with a view to shifting gendered patterns of work while also enhancing performance. Dilemmas of balancing support and challenge in the collaboration process are discussed, in connection with the gendering of collaboration. The importance of creating opportunities for feedback, reflection, and the reviewing of deep assumptions in this type of work is highlighted.


Elizabeth Colwill and Richard Boyd

NWSA Journal, vol. 20 no. 2 (2008), pp. 216-246. Project MUSE,

This essay explores the complexities of collaborative teaching, a practice often characterized by theorists as particularly consonant with feminist and anticolonial pedagogy. Interweaving the scholarship on collaborative teaching, feminist and critical pedagogies, with narratives from faculty who taught in an innovative, interdisciplinary general education program, our essay suggests that team teaching remains a more vexed process than is typically acknowledged, precisely because our teaching personas are deeply rooted not only in our conscious choices, but also in enduring, and at times unconscious, structures of self. These structures are themselves intertwined with what Chandra Talpade Mohanty has called “the politics of location”: the various axes of power that define the modalities and expressions of hierarchy in specific institutional contexts. Indeed, team teaching foregrounds conflict and differences—interpersonal, intellectual, and internal—that can become the very ground of learning. Focusing on the politics and psychodynamics of team teaching, we seek a revision of what constitutes a successful team-teaching experience, and of what makes it a promising site for the implementation of feminist and progressive pedagogies.


Cynthia S. Dickens and Mary Ann D. Sagaria

The Review of Higher Education 21(1) (1997), 79-101. Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved March 19, 2019, from Project MUSE database.

This article describes an interpretive study of 26 feminist women faculty who collaborate with another woman or women in research and/or scholarly writing. The findings indicate that collaboration is a salient practice among feminist scholars. Collaborative practices reflect distinctive pedagogical, instrumental, professional, and intimate patterns that are philosophically congruent with feminism.


Kelly M. Kadera

International Studies Perspectives, Volume 14, Issue 4, 1 November 2013, Pages 463–475,

Using personal observations and the results from a variety of studies on gender and scholarship, this paper demonstrates that our discipline often holds women’s research in lower esteem. It does so by examining gendered patterns in various cultures of academic life, the processes by which intellectual leaders emerge, and coauthorship as one of the most significant social activities undertaken by researchers. Solutions at all institutional levels—professional organizations, journals, grant organizations, universities and colleges, graduate colleges, departments—are suggested. And even well-intentioned individuals, in a variety of roles— departmental leaders, panel organizers, discussants, bloggers, instructors, mentors, colleagues, authors, and journalists—must be willing to examine and change their own practices. The result is win-win: valuing women’s research is better for female and male academics, students’ intellectual health, the strength of colleges and universities, and the long-run vitality of professional organizations and journals (see page 465-69 on the gendered impacts/ dynamics of co-authorship).


Richa Nagar

Gender, Place & Culture (2013), 20:1, 1-18,

If all writing is fundamentally tied to the production of meanings and texts, then feminist research that blurs the borders of academia and activism is necessarily about the labor and politics of mobilizing experience for particular ends. Co-authoring stories is a chief tool by which feminists working in alliances across borders mobilize experience to write against relations of power that produce social violence, and to imagine and enact their own visions and ethics of social change. Such work demands a serious engagement with the complexities of identity, representation, and political imagination as well as a rethinking of the assumptions and possibilities associated with engagement and expertise. This article draws upon 16 years of partnership with activists in India and with academic co-authors in the USA to reflect on how storytelling across social, geographical, and institutional borders can enhance critical engagement with questions of violence and struggles for social change, while also troubling dominant discourses and methodologies inside and outside of the academy. In offering five ‘truths’ about co-authoring stories through alliance work, it reflects on the labor process, assumptions, possibilities, and risks associated with co-authorship as a tool for mobilizing intellectual spaces in which stories from multiple locations in an alliance can speak with one another and evolve into more nuanced critical interventions.


Jevin D. West, Jennifer Jacquet, Molly M. King, Shelley J. Correll, Carl T. Bergstrom

PLOS ONE (2013), 8(7): e66212.

Gender disparities appear to be decreasing in academia according to a number of metrics, such as grant funding, hiring, acceptance at scholarly journals, and productivity, and it might be tempting to think that gender inequity will soon be a problem of the past. However, a large-scale analysis based on over eight million papers across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities reveals a number of understated and persistent ways in which gender inequities remain. For instance, even where raw publication counts seem to be equal between genders, close inspection reveals that, in certain fields, men predominate in the prestigious first and last author positions. Moreover, women are significantly underrepresented as authors of single-authored papers. Academics should be aware of the subtle ways that gender disparities can occur in scholarly authorship.


Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience (2017) 3(2): 1-17.

Author order is crucial; it is the currency of academia. Within STEM disciplines, women and junior researchers–those who are the primary constituents of our lab– consistently receive less credit for equal work. Our Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) is a feminist marine science laboratory at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Recognizing that the stakes are high for CLEAR members, we have developed an approach to author order that emphasizes process and equity rather than system and equality. Our process is premised on: 1) deciding author order vy consensus; 2) valuing care work and other forms of labour that are usually left out of scientific value systems; and 3) taking intersectional social standing into account.  Although CLEAR’s approach differs from others’, we take author order seriously as a compromised but dominant structure within science we must contend with. That is, rather than attempt to circumvent author order, we stay with the trouble. This article outlines this process.

  • Popular Press Sources

Albert-Laszlo Barabási

“Here’s one shocking example that I came across recently. Female economics professors are twice as likely to be denied tenure as their male colleagues. We suspected this, since a “tenure gap” is just one component of a long data trail that documents the obstacles women face in science. The most unexpected aspect, though, was the reason behind the tenure denial. It turns out that the disparity can’t be explained by differences in productivity, quality, confidence, or competitiveness between men and women. Nor can it be explained, even, by the professional penalty some women pay for their family commitments—though that does affect how long it takes to be considered for tenure. What, then, could explain such a troubling disparity?

The data shows that women economists who exclusively work alone are just as likely to receive tenure as men. Regardless of gender, every solo paper an economist writes increases his or her chances of tenure by 8 or 9 percent. Yet a gap suddenly appears once a woman coauthors a paper, and the chances only widen with each collaborative project she participates in. Instead of increasing her odds, every coauthored paper she contributes to lowers them. The effect is so dramatic, in fact, that women who exclusively collaborate face a yawning tenure chasm. The research shows that when women coauthor, they’re accorded far less than half the usual benefits of authorship. And when women coauthor exclusively with men, they see virtually no gains. In other words, female economists pay an enormous penalty for collaborating.

To be clear, men pay no price for collaborative work. They can work alone, in partnerships, or in groups, and their chances of tenure will remain the same. Women, on the other hand, collaborate at their own peril. From a tenure perspective, if you’re a female economist publishing with men, you might as well not publish at all.”


Fighty Squirrel

Researchers performed a cross sectional analysis of top 10 STEM journals including such powerhouses as Science, Nature, JAMA and NEJM in order to determine if there was an association between of last author gender and first author status. In spite of their initial hypothesis that women would be more likely to share co-first authorship, the group found no evidence this was occuring in publications in basic science journals. The authors did, however, find that women were more likely to be sole first authors if the last author on the work was a woman. The group also found that female co-first authors were less likely than their male counterparts to be listed first in the byline when papers were published in top tier clinical journals.


Colleen Flaherty

Study says editors of major political science journals demonstrate no systematic bias against female authors. Yet women authors remain underrepresented in the field.


Colleen Flaherty

Historians push for more teamwork even as many feel it won’t help them earn tenure.


Joy Gaston Gayles and Anthony Ocampo

How to get out of an exploitative co-authorship situation, and the role of healthy conflict (also guidelines for how to establish expectations up front)


Eszter Hargittai

Even in fields where it is not the norm, co-authoring papers can be a great way to learn the ropes of academic publishing, writes Eszter Hargittai.


Sue V. Rosser

Grad students and junior faculty members need to weigh carefully the choices associated with working with an established scholar vs. pursuing their own projects, writes Sue V. Rosser.


Scott Jaschik

Political scientists join other disciplines in considering how to be sure scholars are treated fairly when they collaborate.


Scott Jaschik

When scientists collaborate on papers, they disproportionately work with those of the same ethnicity, study finds.


Justin Walters

Discusses several recent cases of journalists demoting women co-authors, relative to men, when covering their research.


Anupam B. JenaMarc Lerchenmueller and 

Women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the highest levels. Only one out of four full professors at American research institutions is a woman, despite the fact that equal numbers of men and women earn doctoral degrees in science each year. In the life sciences, women are less likely either to receive major grant funding or to be promoted to full professor — and they are paid less even when they produce the same amount of scholarly output as men.


Kristina Lerman

“During the COVID-19 quarantines, scientists, like most professionals, took their work home.

Women researchers, however, bore the disproportionate burden of caregiving responsibilities, forcing a drop in their productivity. Although this decrease may be temporary, my research suggests the hit to women’s reputations and their scientific impacts may compound over time, potentially setting female scientists back by years, if not decades, compared to their male colleagues.

The reason is the inequitable structure of rewards in science. I study social systems from the perspective of network science, which focuses on the structure of connections between people. My colleagues and I analyze statistics about scientific publications to understand how collaborations form and how researchers cite each other.

We have found that inequalities in science emerge from biased individual decisions about whom to cite. Our work shows that this leads to gender disparities in scientific impact.”


  • Guidelines for Co-Authorship

Mounia El Kotni, Lydia Z. Dixon, and Veronica Miranda

This collection of essays builds on a 2018 American Anthropological Association roundtable that brought together scholars whose experiences with co-authorship illuminate its productive possibilities and overlooked strengths within the discipline. As anthropology increasingly recognizes the potential powers of collaboration in scholarship, we argue that collaborative writing in particular must be reconceptualized as a feminist methodology that tackles issues of power and knowledge production. Each set of authors in this series illuminates specific methods used in their co-authorship experiences to bring both the challenges and benefits of this kind of collaboration to light.


International Committee of Medical Journal Editors

Authorship confers credit and has important academic, social, and financial implications. Authorship also implies responsibility and accountability for published work. The following recommendations are intended to ensure that contributors who have made substantive intellectual contributions to a paper are given credit as authors, but also that contributors credited as authors understand their role in taking responsibility and being accountable for what is published.


Featured image from Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection.