Ethical Dimensions of Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems

2.4 Responsible Authorship


2.4 Responsible Authorship

Identification of Authorship

The identification of authors, the ordering of authors, the speed of publication of research findings, modes of research dissemination, acknowledgments, relevancy, and other aspects of publishing and disseminating findings. Proper citations are the foremost responsibility of authorship in the sciences. It is extremely important to adequately and accurately cite literature to give credit to those who have conducted research before you. It is better to be cautious and cite when unsure to avoid even the appearance of plagiarism.

Credit where Credit is Due

Authorship credit should go to anyone providing a substantial intellectual contribution to the paper. Disciplines have a variety of traditions in who should be counted as an author. This is also the case for the order of authorship, particularly who gets to be listed as the first and last author, as many labs and/or fields have their own best practices for listing authors. This is a conversation worth having with an advisor at some point during graduate training. Provide an acknowledgment for those individuals and organizations that provided advice, revision suggestions, material resources, and funding.

Discuss Authorship Upfront

It is worth discussing authorship at the beginning of a project to avoid conflicting expectations when it comes time to publish. All authors must be ready to defend the integrity of the research and the findings presented within. On multi-authored papers, individuals are responsible for their contributions.

“Authorship and collaboration problems are a serious threat to the research enterprise and to the motivation of young scientists, especially when they involve misappropriation of ideas and data.” Floyd E. Bloom. Science 287:589, 2000.

Responsible Publishing

Responsible authorship also must consider membership within a research community. Avoid fragmentary publications, where research findings can be presented in a comprehensive format, i.e., publishing fewer results per paper to increase the number of personal publications. Further, avoid simultaneous manuscript submissions to multiple journals. (Most journals have policies against simultaneous submissions.) Publish substantial findings, first and foremost, in a timely fashion. As well, be fair in the peer review process.