Kin of coauthorship in five decades of health science literature

Mattia Prosperi, Iain Buchan, Iuri Fanti, Sandro Meloni, Pietro Palladino, Vetle I. Torvik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Family background-kinship-can propagate careers. The evidence for academic nepotism is littered with complex associations and disputed causal inferences. Surname clustering, albeit with very careful consideration of surnames' flows across regions and time periods, can be used to reflect family ties. We examined surname patterns in the health science literature, by country, across five decades. Over 21 million papers indexed in the MEDLINE/PubMed database were analyzed. We identified relevant country-specific kinship trends over time and found that authors who are part of a kin tend to occupy central positions in their collaborative networks. Just as kin build potent academic networks with their own resources, societies may do well to provide equivalent support for talented individuals with fewer resources, on the periphery of networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8957-8962
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 9 2016


  • Demographic model
  • Health science literature|pubmed|
  • Social capital|kinship|

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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