Publication practices and responsible authorship
Research results have impact when they are published or shared. Research plays an important part in building the collective knowledge in society. Publishing allows for others to be able to review the work done, replicate it and build upon it. Authorship is the method of crediting those that have done most of the work in designing and performing research. Publications also can have implications in the process of obtaining tenure or standing in academic institutions.
Prior to starting a project, you should discuss topics such as authorship and expectations, when to publish and where to publish. Determining expectations for each member’s participation in the collaboration in advance can minimize potential arguments down the road. As the research progresses, it is imperative to continue those conversations. As roles and responsibilities change in the project, you may also need to change the authorship.
Authorship is different from acknowledgment. Individuals who contributed to the success of the project but did not make significant contributions are generally recognized in the manuscript’s acknowledgements section. Individuals who made significant contributions should be listed as authors.
Many journals have specific authorship requirements. Authors have responsibility for the content of the published manuscript and should be able to answer questions about their contributions to the project. When preparing a publication, authors should confirm the following:
- Citations: Confirm that authors have properly referenced and cited the work of others.
- Contributions: Verify that authors have credited all individuals that participated in the project in the applicable sections.
- Data: Double check the data to confirm that authors have not made mistakes – there is no set data retention period but it is advisable to keep data a minimum of five years.
- Transparency: Authors should properly disclose and manage any conflicts of interest related to the project, as applicable.
- Responsibilities: All authors should agree with and be responsible for their portion of the content in the publication.
Collaborators should also discuss where and when to publish in advance. Publishing in multiple publications simultaneously can create a deceptive bias about the work and reduce its impact.