Principles of Authorship and Good Practice Tips

As researchers in all fields are well aware, authoring academic papers is a vital part of our academic currency. Authorship is often used as an indication of academic ‘worth’, and thus allocation of authorship is often a contentious issue, particularly on collaborative projects. In SAPPHIRE, most of our papers arise from large research projects which often involve multiple researchers (academic staff and contracted research associates and assistants) in different roles – as principal investigators, co-investigators, data collectors, data analysts and project managers, not to mention all the other tasks involved in the actual drafting and re-drafting of reports and academic papers. Almost every paper we produce has, quite rightly, multiple authors. Keen to avoid the anxieties and potential for discord disagreements over authorship could generate, we recognised the need, as a research group, to have a more transparent and consistent approach to reaching these decisions. While a number of relevant authorship codes of conduct exist, including our own University’s Research Code of Conduct, we felt that as a group we would benefit from developing more detailed guidance for operationalizing such codes in a transparent, robust and ethically defensible way. So, we have embarked on a process of developing a set of ‘Authorship Principles’ and accompanying ‘Good Practice Tips’.

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CC BY 4.0