Agreeing on authorship: recommendation for research publications

29.11.2018

The Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK recommends agreeing on the principles of authorship in good time to prevent disputes.

Research publishing is an important way for researchers to gain merit. Principles regarding who are listed as authors and other contributors of co-authored publications vary across different disciplines. If the research is conducted in groups, determining who should be listed as authors and contributors, and in which order, is not always a clear-cut matter.

This may cause a dispute over authorship, and it can be difficult to settle afterwards. Problems often arise from confusion over what constitutes authorship and differing conventions between disciplines. In some disciplines, the order in which the authors are listed is extremely important, whereas in others, the authors are merely listed in alphabetical order. This may result in confusion, especially in the management of interdisciplinary and international research projects.

In order to help prevent disputes, the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK decided to draw up a recommendation for the use of researchers working in Finland on agreeing on authorship of co-authored research publications. The recommendation emphasizes that the principles of authorship should be discussed and agreed on at an early stage – preferably in writing.

The recommendation also provides guidelines, terms, tools and literature to help facilitate agreement on authorship.

This English translation of the original article was prepared by Gabriela Fernandez-Jäntti, Aapo Hanhiniemi, Sara Heinonen, Antti Karila, Saku Kattelus, Heikki Kyllönen, Laura Latvala, Irma-Stiina Lehtonen, Severin Leppälä, Jaarli Niukkanen, Kaisu Pihlainen, Suvi Ruokola, Eeva Savolainen, Anni Vehviläinen and Helmi-Sofia Voipio, under the supervision of John Calton, Lecturer in English, in the Department of Languages at the University of Helsinki.