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Micro‐credits in scientific publishing

Roberto Casati (CNRS‐EHESS‐ENS Institut Nicod, Paris, France)
Gloria Origgi (CNRS‐EHESS‐ENS Institut Nicod, Paris, France)
Judith Simon (CNRS‐EHESS‐ENS Institut Nicod, Paris, France)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 18 October 2011



New technologies allow for efficient dissemination of scientific knowledge objects (SKOs). Yet they are likely to transform SKOs as well. The aim of this paper is to propose a way to structure SKOs that allows for both a clear individuation of the main scientific contributions and a fine‐grained structure of credits and evaluation.


The authors review and analyze existing practices of structuring SKOs in different disciplines.


Provisionally considering the published paper as an atomic SKO, possible subatomic structures of SKOs are investigated. It is hypothesized that SKOs are meant to satisfy two separated but interdependent sets of constraints, one related to the contribution the SKO makes to the body of knowledge, and another related to the contribution the SKO makes to the reputation of its authors. It is hypothesized that existing SKO structures are not optimal for satisfying both sets of constraints at once.

Research limitations/implications

A broader analysis may be needed that covers the totality of existing practices.

Practical implications

Guidelines are offered. This paper, including the present abstract, is an example of what the scientific paper of tomorrow could be like.

Social implications

The paper proposes better apportioning of scientific credits and evaluation; substantive evolution of the academic publishing and credit attribution models.


The idea that the communication and evaluation function of a SKO are differently reflected in their structure is novel. The proposed fine‐grained credit attribution system is novel. The molecular/atomic/sub‐atomic distinction is a new way to fix the terminology.



Casati, R., Origgi, G. and Simon, J. (2011), "Micro‐credits in scientific publishing", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 67 No. 6, pp. 958-974.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited