ERIC Identifier: ED410318
Publication Date: 1996-12-00
Author: Syrett, Kristen L. - Rudner, Lawrence M.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation Washington DC.
Authorship Ethics. ERIC/AE Digest.
Aside from parts of the "Requirements for Authors" statements that appear in
various professional journals, very little has been written about ethical
standards for authors in the education field. Topics that have not been
addressed include criteria for authorship, acknowledgments, redundant
publication, competing manuscripts, and conflict of interest. The education
community can benefit from the debates, experiences, and standards developed by
the biomedical research community.
Presented here is a summary of key ethical standards outlined in the "Uniform
Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals," developed by the
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Adopted by over 500
scientific and biomedical journals, including the New England Journal of
Medicine, Science, and Lancet, these ethical standards are effective guidelines
for educational publications.
All persons listed as authors must have made a
substantial intellectual contribution to the overall study and accept public
responsibility for it. In other words, the author must give input beyond general
supervision or instruction of a research group, have a clear understanding of
the methodology and implications of the work, and be able to defend the
contribution against academic challenge.
Specifically, individuals identified as authors should have made significant
1) to the conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data, or
2) to drafting of the manuscript or revising it critically for intellectual
3) on final approval of the version of the manuscript to be published.
All three conditions must be met. Participation solely in the acquisition of
funding or the collection of data does not merit authorship status.
In cases where more than one person meets the qualifications for authorship
of a manuscript, the order of authorship should be a joint decision of the
co-authors. The submission should be accompanied by a form stating that the
manuscript has been read and approved by each of the co-authors. By signing this
form, the authors verify that the manuscript represents honest work. The
co-authors share responsibility and accountability for the results. Deceased
persons who meet the criteria for inclusion should be listed, with a footnote
reporting the date of death. No fictitious name should appear as an author.
Multiple authorship often results in complications. Chances for errors may be
greater when the number of persons responsible for a submission is increased.
Differences in roles and status compound the difficulties of according credit.
Junior scholars may seek to gain automatic acceptance of their work by
associating it with the name of an established scholar. This practice leads to
an uncritical and inappropriate acceptance by other co-authors, the reviewers,
or the readers.
Persons who made significant contributions
to the work but did not justify authorship may be listed in the Acknowledgment
section along with their function or contribution. Authors should be responsible
for obtaining written permission from all persons being acknowledged by name.
Technical help should be acknowledged in a separate paragraph from those
acknowledging intellectual contributions.
Authors have an obligation to use journal space wisely and efficiently.
Including extensive and repetitious lists of acknowledgments is not a good use
of journal space and is of little value to the readers of a journal. Unlimited
lists undermine the meaning of authorship and the value of an acknowledgment.
Redundant publication is publication
of a paper that overlaps substantially with one already published. Manuscripts
submitted to a journal are considered for review usually under the conditions
that a) the paper is not being reviewed elsewhere and b) the paper has not been
previously published. It is generally permissible for an author to submit a
manuscript that has been presented at a conference or made available through a
document reproduction service, such as ERIC.
Authors should make a full statement to the editor of the journal at the time
of submission about all submissions and prior reports that might be regarded as
redundant publication. The editor should also be made aware of any subjects that
may be mentioned in the manuscript about whom a previous report has been
published. The preliminary communication should be cited in the manuscript.
Editors of a journal may receive
manuscripts from different authors offering competing interpretations of the
same study. Publication of competing manuscripts to air disputes of authors may
waste journal space and confuse the reader. Publication of a manuscript from
some, but not all, of the members of a research team may deny the rest of the
team legitimate coauthorship rights. Multiple submissions are usually made by
co-workers who either disagree on the analysis and interpretation of their study
and submissions or on what the facts are and which data should be reported.
Journals do not normally wish to publish separate articles by contending
members of a research team. Co-workers should consider submitting one manuscript
containing multiple interpretations, then addressing the dispute to the editor
so that reviewers may focus on the problem. In cases where co-workers differ in
their opinions about observations and data, authors should expect consideration
of publication to be declined until the conflict is settled.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Conflict of interest for a given
manuscript exists when a participant in the peer review and publication process
has ties to activities that could inappropriately influence judgment. These
activities may include academic competition or personal relationships, although
financial relationships of industry are considered the most important. Public
trust in the peer review process and the credibility of published articles
depend in part on how these conflicts of interest are handled. Some journals do
not accept submissions from authors with a conflict of interest.
Financial relationships and their effects are less easily-detected than other
conflicts of interest. The authors should disclose to the editors any commercial
associations, contractual relations, or proprietary considerations that might
pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted manuscript. All
sources of funding for the work, personal connections, and institutional
affiliations of the authors should be acknowledged in a footnote on the title
CITATION OF SOURCES
An author should cite those
publications that have been influential to the work. An author has an obligation
to perform a literature search to find, and then cite, the original publications
that describe closely related work. Unless a footnote or the text of the paper
explicitly assigns responsibility for different parts of the paper to different
authors, the authors whose names appear on a paper must share responsibility for
all of it. Omitted citation can be interpreted as plagiarism. Inaccurate
documentation can lead to complications in future research.
An author should identify the source of all information quoted or offered,
except that which is common knowledge. Information that has been obtained
privately, as in conversation, correspondence, or discussion with third parties,
should not be used or reported in the author's work without explicit permission
granted. Sensitive personal information about identifiable persons and
information obtained in the course of confidential services should be treated
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