To be named as an author, a researcher must have made a substantial scholarly contribution to the work reported in a paper and be able to take responsibility for at least that part of the work they contributed. To qualify as an author of work published in Education Research and Perspectives, researchers must meet the criteria stipulated by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (see http://www.nhmrc.gov.au). The principles invoked by the editorial team of Education Research and Perspectives in cases of authorship disputes are detailed below.
- Intellectual ownership of, and therefore co-authorship rights to, research work is shared by all and only those who have made significant intellectual or scholarly contributions to that research. All individuals who participate in this way to the conduct of research work must have opportunity to contribute to the authorship of any resulting publications. In the case of empirical research, significant contributions are typically made in the conception and design of research, or in the analysis and interpretation of data collected. In the case of non-empirical work, significant contributions may include proposing or significantly shaping the main ideas or arguments in a piece, or providing significant input to elaborating the supporting arguments or rationales. In either case, participating in the collection of data (e.g., disseminating survey forms) or collection of source material (e.g., acquiring articles for use in a literature review) alone do not provide sufficient grounds for co-authorship creditation.
- All individuals who take up the option to co-author a paper must then contribute either to drafting the paper or revising it for important intellectual content, and must give final approval of the version to be published. This principle relates not so much to proper representation of researchers’ contributions, but provides the Journal with assurance that at least one of the researchers involved can take responsibility for every section of the final manuscript. Thus, it does not imply that it is acceptable to draw on the intellectual input of others in conducting research (e.g., in the conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data, in empirical research), but then justify excluding them as co-authors by opting to write the paper without their input.
- Individuals who contribute only to editing surface aspects of work (e.g., grammar), or to very confined procedures used in conducting the research (e.g., advice on question wording for an instrument that is used in, but is not the focus of, an empirical study), do not meet co-authorship criteria. Individuals in the latter category may instead be listed within the acknowledgments (but only with their permission; acknowledgements can sometimes lead readers to infer endorsement of a work as a whole).
- Issues relating to the general valence or quality of interpersonal or professional relationships between researchers, either during the conduct of the research, or at the point of preparing and submitting resulting manuscripts for publication, are irrelevant in decisions about co-authorship.
- The institutional roles that individuals occupy whilst making their contributions to research (e.g., supervisor, student, research assistant, CI/PI on a grant), as well as other factors such as relative time or effort expended, are irrelevant in decisions about authorship. These judgments must rest wholly on the significance of the intellectual contribution made to the work.
- The significance of any contribution made to research is judged on the quality (in the “nature of” sense), not on the quantity, of that contribution. In general, the quality of a contribution can be seen in the impact that it has had on the work. A few brief conversations with another researcher may dramatically impact the overarching direction/s or design of a research work, and thus provide warrant for co-authorship creditation. Conversely, an external party to a project may invest considerable time in helping with the data collection work, but will not meet criteria for co-authorship unless he/she makes an intellectual contribution to the work.
- Most disciplines have conventions for indicating the relative contributions made by authors in a multi-authored work. In education, order will typically be commensurate with significance of contribution (i.e., first author – most significant; last author – least significant). In other disciplines, however, the student author or the author who made the most significant contribution will go as first author, but the senior researcher will go last. In other cases still, where authors’ contributions have been equal, the authors are listed alphabetically, and authors are encouraged to describe specifically the contribution/s they have made in the paper itself. Owing to the multidisciplinary nature of the Journal, decisions about authorship order will reflect the conventions of the discipline in which the work is based.
* These principles draw significantly from the ‘Vancouver Protocol’ as set out in the fifth edition of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals.