HPS Colloquium - Mary Jo Nye
Mine, Thine, and Ours: Patterns of Collaboration and Co-Authorship in Science
Mary Jo Nye, Professor of History Emerita, Oregon State University
Patterns of collaboration and co-authorship in chemistry from the 1920s to the 1960s are examined with an eye to the allocation of credit during a period of expanding group authorship and team research in science. Three research leaders are the focus of this study within a framework of sociological literature on collaborative patterns among eminent scientists. It is argued that Michael Polanyi in Berlin, Linus Pauling in Pasadena, and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin in Oxford—all of whom used techniques and instruments of X-ray diffraction—are cases that confirm the need to de-center historical narrative from “he” or “she” to the collaborative “they.” Yet crucially, too, these cases demonstrate the significance of the local and the personal for historical explanation that transcends generalizations about scientific practice, material culture, and sociological trends.