Academic co-authorship is a risky game

Teddy Lazebnik, Stephan Beck, Labib Shami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conducting a project with multiple participants is a complex task that involves multiple social, economic, and psychological interactions. Conducting academic research in general and the process of writing an academic manuscript, in particular, is notorious for being challenging to successfully navigate due to the current form of collaboration dynamics common in academia. In this study, we propose a game-theory-based model for a co-authorship writing project in which authors are allowed to raise an ultimatum, blocking the publishment of the manuscript if they do not get more credit for the work. Using the proposed model, we explore the influence of the contribution and utility of publishing the manuscript on the rate one or more authors would gain from raising an ultimatum. Similarly, we show that the project’s duration and the current state have a major impact on this rate, as well as the number of authors. In addition, we examine common student-advisor and colleague-colleague co-authorships scenarios. Our model reveals disturbing results and demonstrates that the current, broadly accepted, academic practices for collaborations are designed in a way that stimulates authors to raise an ultimatum and stopped only by their integrity and not by a systematic design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6495-6507
Number of pages13
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Academic writing
  • Agent-based simulation
  • Coauthorship
  • Collaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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