As scientific teams in academia have become increasingly large, interdisciplinary, and diverse, more attention has been paid to honorary authorship (i.e., giving authorship to those not making a significant contribution). Our study examined whether honorary authorship occurs because of the desire to include all or many team members. Interviews with project principal investigators (n = 6) and early-career project members (n = 6) from 6 interdisciplinary environmental science research teams revealed that principal investigators frequently employed inclusion-motivated honorary authorship but that this practice had some negative impacts on early-career team members with less power and status, thereby undermining true inclusion of those from underrepresented groups. We believe our findings are of import not only for environmental scientists, but also for scholars who are interested in issues of authorship decision-making regardless of disciplinary affiliation.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Bear, J. B., & Woolley, A. W. (2011). The role of gender in team collaboration and performance. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 36, 146–153. https://doi.org/10.1179/030801811X13013181961473
Borenstein, J., & Shamoo, A. E. (2015). Rethinking authorship in the era of collaborative research. Accountability in Research, 22, 267–283. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2014.968277
Bošnjak, L., & Marušić, A. (2012). Prescribed practices of authorship: Review of codes of ethics from professional bodies and journal guidelines across disciplines. Scientometrics, 93, 751–763.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 32, 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Bunderson, J. S. (2003). Team member functional background and involvement in management teams: Direct effects and the moderating role of power centralization. Academy of Management Journal, 46, 458–474. https://doi.org/10.2307/30040638
Bunderson, J. S., & Reagans, R. E. (2011). Power, status, and learning in organizations. Organization Science, 22, 1182–1194. https://doi.org/10.1287/1100.0590
Chao, G. T., O'Leary-Kelly, A. M., Wolf, S., Klein, H. J., & Gardner, P. D. (1994). Organizational socialization: Its content and consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 730–743. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.79.5.730
Cheruvelil, K. S., Soranno, P. A., Weathers, K. C., Hanson, P. C., Goring, S. J., Filstrup, C. T., & Read, E. K. (2014). Creating and maintaining high-performing collaborative research teams: The importance of diversity and interpersonal skills. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12, 31–38. https://doi.org/10.1890/130001
Conn, V. S., Topp, R., Dunn, S. L., Hopp, L., Jadack, R., Jansen, D. A., et al. (2015). Science on a shoestring: Building nursing knowledge with limited funding. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 37, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193945914567059
da Silva, J. A. T., & Dobranszki, J. (2015). Multiple authorship in scientific manuscripts: Ethical challenges, ghost and guest/gift authorship, and the cultural/disciplinary perspective. Science and Engineering Ethics, 22, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-015-9716-3
Doorewaard, H., & Brouns, B. (2003). Hegemonic power processes in team-based work. Applied Psychology, 52, 106–119. https://doi.org/10.1111/1464-0597.00126
Elliott, K. C., Settles, I. H., Montgomery, G. M., Brassel, S., Cheruvelil, K. S., & Soranno, P. A. (2016). Honorary authorship practices in environmental science teams: Structural and cultural causes and solutions. Accountability in Research, 24, 80–98. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2016.1251320
Fiske, S. T. (2010). Interpersonal stratification: Status, power, and subordination. In S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (pp. 941–982). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470561119.socpsy002026
Flanagan, J. L. (2015). A comparison of the views of college of business deans and faculty on undeserved authorships. Journal of Education for Business, 90, 241–246. https://doi.org/10.1080/08832323.2015.1027163
Geelhoed, R. J., Phillips, J. C., Fischer, A. R., Shpungin, E., & Gong, Y. (2007). Authorship decision making: An empirical investigation. Ethics & Behavior, 17, 95–115. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508420701378057
Greenland, P., & Fontanarosa, P. B. (2012). Ending honorary authorship. Science, 337, 1019–1019. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1224988
Hagen, N. T. (2008). Harmonic allocation of authorship credit: Source-level correction of bibliometric bias assures accurate publication and citation analysis. PLoS One, 3, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004021
Haynes, M. C., & Heilman, M. E. (2013). It had to be you (not me)! Women’s attributional rationalization of their contribution to successful joint work outcomes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 956–969. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213486358
Janss, R., Rispens, S., Segers, M., & Jehn, K. A. (2012). What is happening under the surface? Power, conflict and the performance of medical teams. Medical Education, 46, 838–849. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2923.2012.04322.x
Joshi, A. (2014). By whom and when is women’s expertise recognized? The interactive effects of gender and education in science and engineering teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59, 202–239. https://doi.org/10.1177/0001839214528331
Kennedy, M. S., Barnsteiner, J., & Daly, J. (2014). Honorary and ghost authorship in nursing publications. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 46, 416–422. https://doi.org/10.1111/jnu.12093
Kozlowski, S. W., & Ilgen, D. R. (2006). Enhancing the effectiveness of work groups and teams. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 7, 77–124. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.15291006.2006.00030.x
Leca, I., & Vrânceanu, C. A. (2014). Multicultural teams: Moving from diversity to inclusion. Cross-Cultural Management Journal, 2, 361–368.
Lirio, P., Lee, M. D., Williams, M. L., Haugen, L. K., & Kossek, E. E. (2008). The inclusion challenge with reduced-load professionals: The role of the manager. Human Resource Management, 47, 443–461. https://doi.org/10.1002/hrm.20226
McGrath, J. E. (1964). Social psychology: A brief introduction. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.
McHugh, M. (2012). Interrater reliability: The kappa statistic. Biochemia Medica, 22, 276–282. https://doi.org/10.11613/BM.2012.031
McLeod, P. L., Lobel, S. A., & Cox, T. H. (1996). Ethnic diversity and creativity in small groups. Small Group Research, 27, 248–264. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046496496272003
McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. (2001). Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 415–444.
Morrison, E. W. (2011). Employee voice behavior: Integration and directions for future research. The Academy of Management Annals, 5, 373–412. https://doi.org/10.1080/19416520.2011.574506
National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (2015). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering: 2015 (NSF Special Report No. 15–311). Retrieved from http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/
Salazar, M. R., Lant, T. K., Fiore, S. M., & Salas, E. (2012). Facilitating innovation in diverse science teams through integrative capacity. Small Group Research, 43, 527–558. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046496412453622
Sarsons, H. (2015). Gender differences in recognition for group work . Unpublished manuscript.
Shore, L. M., Randel, A. E., Chung, B. G., Dean, M. A., Ehrhart, K. H., & Singh, G. (2011). Inclusion and diversity in work groups: A review and model for future research. Journal of Management, 37, 1262–1289. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206310385943
Smith, D. G. (2015). Diversity's promise for higher education: Making it work. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
Spelt, E. J., Biemans, H. J., Tobi, H., Luning, P. A., & Mulder, M. (2009). Teaching and learning in interdisciplinary higher education: A systematic review. Educational Psychology Review, 21, 365–378. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-009-9113-z
Street, J. M., Rogers, W. A., Israel, M., & Braunack-Mayer, A. J. (2010). Credit where credit is due? Regulation, research integrity and the attribution of authorship in the health sciences. Social Science & Medicine, 70, 1458–1465. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.01.013
Wislar, J. S., Flanagin, A., Fontanarosa, P. B., & DeAngelis, C. D. (2011). Honorary and ghost authorship in high impact biomedical journals: A cross sectional survey. BMJ, 343, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6128
Zucker, D. (2012). Developing your career in an age of team science. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 60, 779–784. https://doi.org/10.2310/JIM.0b013e3182508317
Portions of this research were conducted while authors Isis Settles and Sheila Brassel were at Michigan State University. This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant SES-1449466 awarded to Kevin C. Elliott (PI), Kendra Spence Cheruvelil, Georgina M. Montgomery, Isis H. Settles, and Patricia A. Soranno; a National Science Foundation grant EF-1065786 to Patricia A. Soranno and Kendra Spence Cheruvelil; and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project no. 176820 to Patricia A. Soranno. We thank Claire Gonyo for her assistance in designing the interview protocol and conducting the interviews and Kristen Mills for her assistance with coding the interviews. We thank NiCole Buchanan and Ann Austin for their comments on an earlier draft.
About this article
Cite this article
Settles, I.H., Brassel, S.T., Montgomery, G.M. et al. Missing the Mark: A New Form of Honorary Authorship Motivated by Desires for Inclusion. Innov High Educ 43, 303–319 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-018-9429-z
- Honorary authorship
- Power and status
- Interdisciplinary research
- Research teams
- Environmental science