Article

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 365-388

First online:

Authorship and Publication Practices in the Social Sciences: Historical Reflections on Current Practices

  • Muriel J. BebeauAffiliated withSchool of Dentistry, University of Minnesota Email author 
  • , Verna MonsonAffiliated withHolloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, University of St Thomas School of Law

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Abstract

An historical review of authorship definitions and publication practices that are embedded in directions to authors and in the codes of ethics in the fields of psychology, sociology, and education illuminates reasonable agreement and consistency across the fields with regard to (a) originality of the work submitted, (b) data sharing, (c) human participants’ protection, and (d) conflict of interest disclosure. However, the role of the professional association in addressing violations of research or publication practices varies among these fields. Psychology and sociology provide active oversight with sanction authority. In education, the association assumes a more limited role: to develop and communicate standards to evoke voluntary compliance. With respect to authorship credit, each association’s standards focus on criteria for inclusion as an author, other than on the author’s ability to defend and willingness to take responsibility for the entire work. Discussions across a broad range of research disciplines beyond the social sciences would likely be beneficial. Whether improved standards will reduce either misattribution or perceptions of inappropriate attribution of credit within social science disciplines will likely depend on how well authorship issues are addressed in responsible conduct of research education (RCR), in research practice, and in each association’s ongoing efforts to influence normative practice by specifying and clarifying best practices.

Keywords

Authorship credit Social sciences Publication policies Publication ethics Codes of ethics Responsible conduct of research RCR Psychology Sociology Education