Definition of authorship in social science journals

Abstract

This study investigated authorship definitions listed on 1065 journal websites, representing seven social science disciplines. The results showed that 51.3% of the journals do not have an established authorship definition. Journals with high impact factors do not necessarily have an established authorship definition. Up to 81.1% of law journals lack authorship definitions, whereas the lowest proportion of journals having no authorship definitions was identified in the business domain. Authorship definitions were mostly accessible through hyperlinks embedded in the “instructions for authors” section of the journals’ websites. Only 3.8% of the journals directly listed authorship definitions in the instructions for authors section. A total of seven types of requirements were identified for authorship. The interdisciplinary influence of the authorship criteria developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has expanded to the social sciences. The current version of the ICMJE authorship criteria was abided by 32.9% of the journals. Authorship definitions stated by journals primarily originated from those set by editorial associations and other professional associations. However, inconsistent authorship definitions were noted between journals published by the same publishers. Journal websites should provide clear, complete, and updated authorship criteria to efficiently communicate essential information to authors.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Albert, T., & Wager, E. (2011). Responsible for research publication: International standard for editors. In A position statement developed at the 2nd world conference on research integrity, Singapore, July 22–24, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from https://publicationethics.org/files/International%20standard_editors_for%20website_11_Nov_2011.pdf.

  2. Al-Herz, W., Haider, H., Al-Bahhar, M., & Sadeq, A. (2014). Honorary authorship in biomedical journals: How common is it and why does it exist? Journal of Medical Ethics, 40, 346–348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Allen, L., Scott, J., Brand, A., Hlava, M., & Altman, M. (2014). Credit where credit is due. Nature, 508(7496), 312–313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Apgar, D. H., & Congress, E. (2005). Authorship credit: A national study of social work educators’ beliefs. Journal of Social Work Education, 41(1), 101–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bebeau, M. J., & Monson, V. (2011). Authorship and publication practices in the social sciences: Historical reflections on current practices. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17(2), 365–388.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bennett, D. M., & Taylor, D. M. (2003). Unethical practices in authorship of scientific papers. Emergency Medicine, 15(3), 263–270.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bolshete, P. (2017). Authorship criteria and reporting of ethical compliance in Indian biomedical journals. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, 2(3), 160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bosch, X., Pericas, J. M., Hernández, C., & Torrents, A. (2012). A comparison of authorship policies at top-ranked peer-reviewed biomedical journals. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(1), 70–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bošnjak, L., & Marušić, A. (2012). Prescribed practices of authorship: Review of codes of ethics from professional bodies and journal guidelines. Scientometrics, 93(3), 751–763.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brand, A., Allen, L., Altman, M., Hlava, M., & Scott, J. (2015). Beyond authorship: Attribution, contribution, collaboration, and credit. Learned Publishing, 28(2), 151–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Camby, I., Delpire, V., Rouxhet, L., Morel, T., Vanderlinden, C., Van Driessche, N., et al. (2014). Publication practices and standards: Recommendations from GSK Vaccines’ author survey. Trials, 15(1), 446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Carlson, K., & Ross, J. (2010). Publication ethics: Conflicts, copyright, permission, and authorship. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 25(4), 263–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Clement, T. P. (2014). Authorship matrix: A rational approach to quantify individual contributions and responsibilities in multi-author scientific articles. Science and Engineering Ethics, 20(2), 345–361.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cronin, B. (1991). Let the credits roll: A preliminary examination of the role played by mentors and trusted assessors in disciplinary formation. Journal of Documentation, 47(3), 227–239.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cronin, B., Shaw, D., & La Barre, K. (2003). A cast of thousands: Coauthorship and subauthorship collaboration in the 20th century as manifested in the scholarly journal literature of psychology and philosophy. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(9), 855–871.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Da Silva, J. A. T. (2011). The ethics of collaborative authorship. More realistic standards and better accountability are needed to enhance scientific publication and give credit where it is due. EMBO Reports, 12(9), 889–893.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. da Silva, J. A. T., & Dobránszki, J. (2016). Multiple authorship in scientific manuscripts: Ethical challenges, ghost and guest/gift Authorship, and the cultural/disciplinary perspective. Science and Engineering Ethics, 22(5), 1457–1472.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Díaz-Faes, A. A., & Bordons, M. (2017). Making visible the invisible through the analysis of acknowledgements in the humanities. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69(5), 576–590.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Favaloro, E. J. (2008). Measuring the quality of journals and journal articles: The impact factor tells but a portion of the story. Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, 34(1), 7–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Fernández, J. A. (1998). The transition from an individual science to a collective one: The case of astronomy. Scientometrics, 42(1), 61–74.

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Fine, M. A., & Kurdek, L. A. (1993). Reflections on determining authorship credit and authorship order on faculty-student collaborations. American Psychologist, 48(11), 1141–1147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Flanagin, A., Carey, L. A., Fontanarosa, P. B., Phillips, S. G., Pace, B. P., Lundberg, G. D., et al. (1998). Prevalence of articles with honorary authors and ghost authors in peer-reviewed medical journals. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 280(3), 222–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Foster, R. D., & Ray, D. C. (2012). An ethical decision-making model to determine authorship credit in published faculty-student collaborations. Counseling and Values, 57(2), 214–228.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Gasparyan, A. Y., Yessirkepov, M., Voronov, A. A., Gorin, S. V., Koroleva, A. M., & Kitas, G. D. (2016). Statement on publication ethics for editors and publishers. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 31(9), 1351–1354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Geelhoed, R. J., Phillips, J. C., Fischer, A. R., Shpungin, E., & Gong, Y. (2007). Authorship decision making: An empirical investigation. Ethics and Behavior, 17(2), 95–115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Gilbert, F. J., & Denison, A. R. (2003). Research misconduct. Clinical Radiology, 58(7), 499–504.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Green, B. N., & Johnson, C. D. (2015). Interprofessional collaboration in research, education, and clinical practice: Working together for a better future. The Journal of Chiropractic Education, 29(1), 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Grgić, I. H., & Čačković, L. (2018). Guidelines for authors in Croatian scholarly journals. Information Discovery and Delivery, 46(1), 38–44. https://doi.org/10.1108/IDD-07-2017-0055.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Helgesson, G. (2015). Scientific authorship and intellectual involvement in the research: Should they coincide? Medical Health Care and Philosophy, 18(2), 171–175.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Henriksen, D. (2016). The rise in co-authorship in the social sciences (1980–2013). Scientometrics, 107(2), 455–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Hoen, W. P., Walvoort, H. C., & Overbeke, A. J. (1998). What are the factors determining authorship and the order of the authors’ names? The Journal of the American Medical Association, 280(3), 217–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Holaday, M. (1995). Authorship Credit and Ethical Guidelines. Counseling and Values, 40(1), 24–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hren, D., Sambunjak, D., Ivanis, A., Marusic, M., & Marusic, A. (2007). Perceptions of authorship criteria: Effects of student instruction and scientific experience. Journal of Medical Ethics, 33(7), 428–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Huang, D. W. (2015). Temporal evolution of multi-author paper in basic sciences from 1960 to 2010. Scientometrics, 105(3), 2137–2147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hwang, S. S., Song, H. H., Baik, J. H., Jung, S. L., Park, S. H., Choi, K. H., et al. (2003). Researcher contributions and fulfillment of ICMJE authorship criteria: Analysis of author contribution lists in research articles with multiple authors published in radiology. Radiology, 226(1), 16–23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. ICMJE (2018). Defining the role of authors and contributors. Retrieved October 1, 2018 from http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html.

  37. Ivanis, A., Hren, D., Sambunjak, D., Marusic, M., & Marusic, A. (2008). Quantification of authors’ contributions and eligibility for authorship: Randomized study in a general medical journal. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(9), 1303–1310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Jones, A. H. (2003). Can authorship policies help prevent scientific misconduct? What role for scientific societies? Science and Engineering Ethics, 9(2), 243–256.

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Kassis, T. (2017). How do research faculty in the biosciences evaluate paper authorship criteria? PLoS ONE, 12(8), e0183632.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. King, C. (2012). Multiauthor papers: Onward and upward. Science Watch Newsletter, 7(5), 62.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Larivière, V., Desrochers, N., Macaluso, B., Mongeon, P., Paul-Hus, A. P., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2016). Contributionship and division of labor in knowledge production. Social Studies of Science, 46(3), 417–435.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Macfarlane, B. (2017). The ethics of multiple authorship: Power, performativity and the gift economy. Studies in Higher Education, 47(2), 1194–1210.

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Maier, G. (2006). Impact factors and peer judgment: The case of regional science journals. Scientometrics, 69(3), 651–667.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Malički, M., Jerončić, A., Marušić, M., & Marušić, A. (2012). Why do you think you should be the author on this manuscript? Analysis of open-ended responses of authors in a general medical journal. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 12(1), 189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Manton, E., & English, D. (2011). College of business deans’ views on undeserved authorships in business journals. The Journal of Faculty Development, 25(2), 5–11.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Manton, E., English, D., & Brodnax, T. B. (2012). College of business faculty views on gift authorships in business journals. Journal of Education for Business, 87(2), 79–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Marušić, A., Bošnjak, L., & Jerončić, A. (2011). A systematic review of research on the meaning, ethics and practices of authorship across scholarly disciplines. Plos One, 6(9), 1–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Marusić, M., Bozikov, J., Katavić, V., Hren, D., Kljaković-Gaspić, M., & Marusić, A. (2004). Authorship in a small medical journal: A study of contributorship statements by corresponding authors. Science and Engineering Ethics, 10(3), 493–502.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Mitcheson, H., Collings, S., & Siebers, R. W. (2011). Authorship Issues at a New Zealand Academic Institution. The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2(3), 166–171.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Moore, M. T., & Griffin, B. W. (2006). Identification of factors that influence authorship name placement and decisions to collaborate in peer-reviewed, education-related publications. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 32(2), 125–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Mowatt, G., Shirran, L., Grimshaw, J. M., Rennie, D., Flanagin, A., Yank, V., et al. (2002). Prevalence of honorary and ghost authorship in cochrane reviews. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 287(21), 2769–2771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Nylenna, M., Fagerbakk, F., & Kierulf, P. (2014). Authorship: Attitudes and practice among Norwegian researchers. BMC Medical Ethics, 15, 53. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6939-15-53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Osborne, J. W., & Holland, A. (2009). What is authorship, and what should it be? A survey of prominent guidelines for determining authorship in scientific publications. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 14(15), 1–19.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Paul-Hus, A., Díaz-Faes, A. A., Sainte-Marie, M., Desrochers, N., Costas, R., & Larivière, V. (2017). Beyond funding: Acknowledgement patterns in biomedical, natural and social sciences. PLoS ONE, 12(10), e0185578. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185578.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Pontille, D. (2003). Authorship practices and institutional contexts in sociology: Elements for a comparison of the United States and France. Science, Technology and Human Values, 28(2), 217–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Rahman, M. T., Regenstein, J. M., Kassim, N. L. A., & Haque, N. (2017). The need to quantify authors’ relative intellectual contributions in a multi-author paper. Journal of Informetrics, 11(1), 275–281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Rajasekaran, S., Shan, R. L. P., & Finnoff, J. T. (2014). Honorary authorship: Frequency and associated factors in physical medicine and rehabilitation research articles. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 95, 418–428.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Reinisch, J. F., Li, W. Y., Yu, D. C., & Walker, J. W. (2013). Authorship conflicts: A study of awareness of authorship criteria among academic plastic surgeons. Plastic and Reconstructive Survey, 132(2), 303E–310E. https://doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182958b5a.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Rennie, D., Flanagin, A., & Yank, V. (2000). The contributions of authors. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 284(1), 89–91. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.284.1.89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Resnik, D. B., & Master, Z. (2011). Authorship policies of bioethics journals. Journal of Medical Ethics, 37, 424–428. https://doi.org/10.1136/jme.201-40675.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Resnik, D. B., Tyler, A. M., Black, J. R., & Kissling, G. (2016). Authorship policies of scientific journals. Journal of Medical Ethics, 42(3), 199–202. https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2015-103171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Roberts, L. W. (2017). Addressing authorship issues prospectively: A heuristic approach. Academic Medicine, 92(2), 143–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Samad, A., Khanzada, T. W., & Siddiqui, A. A. (2009). Do the instructions to authors of Pakistani medical journals convey adequate guidance for authorship criteria? Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, 25(6), 879–882.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Sauermann, H., & Haeussler, C. (2017). Authorship and contribution disclosures. Science Advances, 3(11), e1700404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Shapiro, D. W., Wenger, N. S., & Shapiro, M. F. (1994). The contributions of authors to multiauthored biomedical research papers. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 271(6), 438–442.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Shaw, D. (2011). The ICMJE’s definition of authorship is illogical and unethical. British Medical Journal, 343, d7192. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Smith, E., & Master, Z. (2017). Best practice to order authors in multi/interdisciplinary health sciences research publications. Accountability in Research, 24(4), 243–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Sønderstrup-Andersen, E. M., & Sønderstrup-Andersen, H. H. K. (2008). An investigation into diabetes researcher’s perceptions of the Journal Impact Factor — reconsidering evaluating research. Scientometrics, 76(2), 391–406.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Spiegel, D., & Keith-Speigel, P. (1970). Assignment of publication credits: Ethics and practices of psychologists. American Psychologist, 25(8), 738–747.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. 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 and Medicine, 70(9), 1458–1465.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Supak-Smolcic, V., Mlinaric, A., Antoncic, D., Horvat, M., Omazic, J., & Simundic, A. M. (2015). ICMJE authorship criteria are not met in a substantial proportion of manuscripts submitted to Biochemia Medica. Biochemia Medica, 25(3), 324–334.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Supak-Smolcic, V., & Simundic, A. M. (2015). Biochemia Medica’s editorial policy on authorship. Biochemia Medica, 25(3), 320–323.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Tarnow, E. (1999). The authorship list in science: Junior physicists’ perceptions of who appears and why. Science and Engineering Ethics, 5(1), 73–88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-999-0061-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Teixeira da Silva, J. A., & Dobránszki, J. (2016). How authorship is defined by multiple publishing organizations and STM publishers. Accountability in Research, 23(2), 97–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Tripathi, M., Kumar, S., & Babbar, P. (2018). Bibliometrics of social science and humanities research in India. Current Science, 114(11), 2240–2247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. The World Association of Medical Editors (2007). Authorship. Retrieved October 5, 2018 from http://wame.org/authorship.

  77. Wager, E. (2007). Do medical journals provide clear and consistent guidelines on authorship? Medscape General Medicine, 9(3), 16.

    Google Scholar 

  78. Warrender, J. M. (2015). A simple framework for evaluating authorial contributions for scientific publications. Science and Engineering Ethics, 22, 1419–1430.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Washburn, J. J. (2008). Encouraging research collaboration through ethical and fair authorship: A model policy. Ethics and Behavior, 18(1), 44–58.

    MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Weltzin, J. F., Belote, R. T., Williams, L. T., Keller, J. K., & Engel, E. C. (2006). Authorship in ecology: Attribution, accountability, and responsibility. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 4(8), 435–441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Winston, R. B., Jr. (1985). A suggested procedure for determining order of authorship in research publications. Journal of Counseling and Development, 63(8), 515–518.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Wislar, J. S., Flanagin, A., & Fontafarosa, P. B. (2011). Honorary and ghost authorship in high impact biomedical journals: A cross sectional survey. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 343, d6128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316(5827), 1036–1039.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the Center for Research in Econometric Theory and Applications (Grant No. 107L900204) from The Featured Areas Research Center Program within the framework of the Higher Education Sprout Project by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan, and by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Taiwan, under Grant Nos. MOST 107-3017-F-002-004 and 106-2410-H-002-094.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yu-Wei Chang.

Appendix: Code statements

Appendix: Code statements

Code Locations for access to authorship definitions Note
a Instructions for author Authorship definitions are listed in the “instructions for authors” section or equivalent webpages with various names including “author guidelines,” “guidelines for author,” and “submission guidelines”
b Hyperlinks embedded in instructions for authors  
c Resources for authors Authorship definitions are listed in other webpages outside of the “instructions for authors” section
Code Specific authorship requirements Note
1 Substantial contributions to the concept or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work This is the first requirement listed in the third and current versions of ICMJE authorship requirement
2 Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content This is the second requirement listed in the third and current versions of ICMJE authorship requirement
3 Final approval of the version to be published This is the third requirement listed in the third and current versions of ICMJE authorship requirement
4 Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the wok are appropriately investigated and resolved This requirement is listed in the current version of ICMJE
5 A substantive contribution No statement was provided for “a substantive contribution”
Code Specific acknowledgment requirements Note
100 No requirements for authorship and acknowledgment Journals have no requirements for authorship and acknowledgment
101 No acknowledgment statements Journals have established authorship definitions but no acknowledgment statements
102 People who helped with research but did not qualify for authorship, providing intellectual assistance or technical help “Thank all of the people who helped with the research but did not qualify for authorship Acknowledge anyone who provided intellectual assistance, technical help (including with writing and editing), or special equipment or materials”
103 Certain substantive aspects of the research project “Where there are others who have participated in certain substantive aspects of the research project, they should be acknowledged or listed as contributors”
104 Providing support but have not contributed to research “Those who have provided support but have not contributed to the research should be acknowledged in an Acknowledgements section”
105 Providing help during the research “Individuals who provided help during the research (e.g. providing language help, writing assistance or proof reading articles etc.”
106 Less contribution No statements explaining the meaning of less or marginal contribution
107 Proper acknowledgment No statements explaining the meaning of “proper acknowledgment”
108 Collaboration “Those who effectively collaborated to the study”
109 Gift and ghost authorship  

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chang, Y. Definition of authorship in social science journals. Scientometrics 118, 563–585 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-018-2986-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Authorship
  • Acknowledgment
  • Social sciences
  • Journals