Authorship on publications has been described as a “meal ticket” for researchers in academic settings. Given the importance of authorship, inappropriate publication credit is a pertinent ethical issue. This paper presents an overview of authorship problems and policies intended to address them. Previous work has identified three types of inappropriate authorship practices: plagiarism, giving unwarranted credit and failure to give expected credit. Guidelines from universities, journals and professional organizations provide standards about requirements of authors and may describe inappropriate practices; to a lesser extent, they provide guidance for determining authorship order. While policies on authorship may be helpful in some circumstances, they are not panaceas. Formal guidelines may not address serious power imbalances in working relationships and may be difficult to enforce in the face of particular departmental or institutional cultures. In order to develop more effective and useful guidelines, we should gain more knowledge about how students and faculty members perceive policies as well as their understanding of how policies will best benefit collaborators.
Keywordsauthorship credit ethics grant proposals policy publications
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