Physics research paper has record breaking 5,154 authors

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A recently published physics paper that put forward a more precise estimate of the size of the Higgs boson has broken all previous records pertaining to number of authors as a whopping 5,154 authors worked on the latest paper published in Physical Review Letters.

Only the first nine pages in the 33-page article describe the research itself – including references. The other 24-page list the authors and their institutions.

The article is the first joint paper from the two teams that operate two massive detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland.

Each team is a sprawling collaboration involving researchers from dozens of institutions and countries. By pooling their data, the two groups were able to obtain the most precise estimate yet of the mass of the Higgs boson.

The Higgs boson or Higgs particle is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics. The Higgs boson is a particle that gives mass to other particles. Thousands of scientists and engineers have worked on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

According to Robert Garisto, editor with Physical Review Letters that published the paper online, dealing with the paper presented challenges above and beyond the already herculean task of dealing with teams that have thousands of members.

“The biggest problem was merging the author lists from two collaborations with their own slightly different styles,” Garisto said.

“Every author name will also appear in the print version of the Physical Review Letters paper,” Garisto noted.

Recently, some biologists were upset about a genomics paper with more than 1,000 authors, but physicists have long been accustomed to “hyperauthorship” – a term credited to information scientist Blaise Cronin at Indiana University Bloomington.