Texas Tech University
Scholarly Messenger
Talk With Your Research Group about Authorship

Customs governing authorship can vary widely across disciplines. By talking proactively about their expectations, faculty mentors and students can better understand the practices and norms in their discipline, and resolve misunderstanding and potential disputes.

A workshop hosted by Harvard University and the Wellcome Trust suggests strategies that can be useful across disciplines.
  • Have a clear authorship/contributorship policy.
  • Discuss and document individual contributor roles and provisional authorship early on, ideally at the start of the project before work begins.
  • Review contributions as the work progresses, and revise roles and authorship accordingly until journal submission.
  • Keep a descriptive authorship contribution list.
  • Document the reasons for author/contributor additions and deletions, and get agreement for changes from all individuals.
  • Make sure all authors/contributors see and approve the final manuscript.
Source: IWCSA Report (2012). Report on the International Workshop on Contributorship and Scholarly Attribution, May 16, 2012. Harvard University and the Wellcome Trust.

Two views from other areas of scholarship support the importance of these discussions.

The authors of the Retraction Watch blog offer their comments about "who deserves to be a coauthor” in a recent article from Lab Times.

Two researchers interested in scholarly communication offer their input in the online magazine Research Trends