Scholars and policy-makers have expressed concerns about the crediting of coauthors in research publications. Most such problems fall into one of two categories, excluding deserving contributors or including undeserving ones. But our research shows that there is no consensus on “deserving” or on what type of contribution suffices for co-authorship award. Our study uses qualitative data, including interviews with 60 US academic science or engineering researchers in 14 disciplines in a set of geographically distributed research-intensive universities. We also employ data from 161 website posts provided by 93 study participants, again US academic scientists. We examine a variety of factors related to perceived unwarranted exclusion from co-author credit and unwarranted inclusion, providing an empirically-informed conceptual model to explain co-author crediting outcomes. Determinants of outcomes include characteristics of disciplines and fields, institutional work culture, power dynamics and team-specific norms and decision processes.
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All our data are from the U.S. However, in career-long discussion with colleagues in other countries, colleagues who are mostly but not exclusively, social scientists, we know there is considerable variance in accepted practice for claiming co-author credit for work with doctoral students. In some cases it is widely accepted that supervision implies co-authorship even if the supervisor contributes not at all to the writing or analysis or even to the major aspects of the core idea. In other cases that is frowned on and may be considered unethical.
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Bozeman, B., Youtie, J. Trouble in Paradise: Problems in Academic Research Co-authoring. Sci Eng Ethics 22, 1717–1743 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-015-9722-5
- Research collaboration
- Ghost authors
- Guest author