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Publication ethics: co-authorship and the vulnerable researcher

Paper i proceeding
Författare Daniela Cutas
Publicerad i 2012 Conference: Building and Sustaining Research Ethics Capacity in Low- and Middle- Income Countries
Publiceringsår 2012
Publicerad vid Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori
Språk en
Ämnesord publication ethics, research ethics, vulnerable researchers
Ämneskategorier Praktisk filosofi


That there are problems in the co-authorship decision-making within research groups, and that the biomedical sciences feature prominently among the affected research areas, are well-known facts [1-19]. Co-authorship practices may include honorary, guest, or ghost authorship, as well as, more generally, co-authorship ranking on criteria other than merit. Moreover, some of the difficulties in the practice of co-authorship may be linked to shortcomings in the co-authorship criteria, where indeed explicit criteria exist at all: in the case of biomedical research, the relevant regulations are the “Vancouver rules”, to which most publishers adhere. Academic publishing is a very important part of research dissemination, not only for the progress of research itself, but also for society as a whole, as well as for individual researchers. In all scientific areas, publications are increasingly the most important merit in the competition for employment and funding. This status quo imposes a heavy burden on researchers to publish (“or perish”). Moreover, it increases the costs of any shortcomings or failures in the practice of authorship. Suspicions or violations of uniform co-authorship criteria diminish trust in science as well as the incentive for scientists to follow them. Cross-disciplinary research funding, as well as increasing internationalisation and migration of researchers are aggravating factors that increase the vulnerability of researchers subjected to the variety of practices across research units, disciplines, and geographical areas. Arguably, junior researchers are the most vulnerable parties in this process. It is therefore important that the practice of scientific co-authorship is transparent and just. In this presentation, I will look at some of the most sensitive areas of concern, implications for researchers (in particular for junior researchers), and possible solutions. My main expectation from this experience is to hopefully find partners for a collaborative project focused on the ethics of research co-authorship.

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