Standards of authorship

From The Embassy of Good Science

Standards of authorship

What is this about?

Standards of authorship regulate the allocation of credit when researchers collaborate on publications.

Why is this important?

Collaborations are becoming more frequent and gather anever increasing number of researcher. At the same time publications remain a key source of academic credit and career advancement. It is important to allocate credit for research contributions in a fair and transparent way.

The UK Research Integrity Office outlines why authorship standards matter:

“Correct authorship of research publications matters because authorship confers credit, carries responsibility, and readers should know who has done the research. Denying authorship to somebody who deserves it denies recognition and academic credit since publications are used to assess academic productivity. Including an undeserving author is unfair since this person gets credit for work they have not done. Omitting a deserving author from an author also list misleads readers (including journal editors) and may mask conflicts of interest.” [1]

  1. UKRIO (2017). Good practice in research: Authorship. Accessed via: http://ukrio.org/wp-content/uploads/UKRIO-Guidance-Note-Authorship-v1.0.pdf

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

Difficulties

Common practises on standards of authorship vary between scientific disciplines, and between countries, making standardizing difficult. They also change over time. As the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences note:

“Customs have changed over the past few decades; for example, the practice of granting “honorary” authorship to an eminent researcher – formerly not unusual – is no longer considered acceptable.”[1]

European Code of Conduct

The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2017) states the following:[2]

  • All authors are fully responsible for the content of a publication, unless otherwise specified
  • All authors agree on the sequence of authorship, acknowledging that authorship itself is based on a significant contribution to the design of the research, relevant data collection, or the analysis or interpretation of the results
  • Authors acknowledge important work and intellectual contributions of others, including collaborators, assistants, and funders, who have influenced the reported research in appropriate form, and cite related work correctly
  • All authors disclose any conflicts of interest and financial or other types of support for the research or for the publication of its results

COPE

  1. Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (2013). Authorship in scientific publications: Analysis and recommendations. Accessed via: http://www.akademien-schweiz.ch/en/dms/E/Publications/Guidelines-and-Recommendations/integrity/Academies_Authorship.pdf
  2. ALLEA (2017). European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Accessed via: https://allea.org/code-of-conduct/

Other information