A recent blog by the London School for Economics and Political Science provides an interesting commentary on the importance and relevance of authorship decisions.
The blog also provides several useful recommendations on authorship, including:
- Don’t leave decisions about authorship until the paper has already been written! Start discussions early on in the research project, and make sure everyone is included
- Find a way to make the decision-making process transparent – e.g. by keeping a ‘log’ of each person’s contribution to the research and the writing
- Agree as a group what constitutes a ‘significant’ contribution worthy of authorship, and how different types of contribution are (more or less) valued
- For large projects, what constitutes ‘fair’ allocation of authorship needs to be considered at the project (and possibly research group) level – not just on a paper by paper basis.
- Have an agreed for procedure for what to do if disputes do arise, and make sure junior researchers feel able to discuss their concerns with another senior researcher (outside of the project, if need be)