Authorship as Academic Responsibility

Authorship isn’t something that I usually encounter as an issue in academic integrity. My field is generally in the humanities and social sciences, where solo authorship is more or less the norm.

But this doesn’t mean that I can discount the importance of the issue within the larger academy. After all, the academy is like the body–when one part suffers, the whole suffers with it. Understanding concerns about multiple authors on papers becomes clearest for me when it’s put in terms that align more with academic integrity–giving credit where credit is due. Of course the person who shows up in the lab shouldn’t be first author; of course the technicians should appear in the author list, along with the grant recipients; of course the person who did the most writing should be listed first.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always this clear. Internal (and external) politics get in the way, and people who feel that they deserve the most recognition eclipse those who have the forward-thinking ideas and those who do the writing. Less experience earns less credit, due to the shyness in asserting first-author rights, as well as less clout within the department and the field more broadly.

How can we resolve this? Can it be resolved broadly, or will it have to be reconciled on an institution-by-institution, department-by-department basis?

About j.d.grunert

Historian, Science and Technology Studier, Librarian, Academish
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One Response to Authorship as Academic Responsibility

  1. annie says:

    You make a very good point, authorship issues are just as much about the person reading the paper understanding who did what, as it is about people who did work on the project getting recognition.

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