Authorship is often called the “currency” of academia because of the significant role it plays in employment prospects, promotion and tenure decisions, and grant awards. Determination of authorship depends on academic disciplines and can be unclear or a challenge to discuss at times due to power dynamics between students and faculty; gender differences; and the evolving nature of projects and personnel over time.
Because the stakes are high and authorship practices vary, authorship decision making can provoke discomfort or conflict, even among healthy collaborative relationships.
For these reasons, the Graduate School has led an effort to provide clarity to students and faculty about good authorship practices and ways to address disagreements. Our first step was to support the adoption of an institutional authorship policy, University Policy #318, “Authorship Policy and Resolution Procedures”. We have also collected resources on authorship, and created an authorship agreement form and app. You can find more information about each area on this site.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte adopted Policy #318, “Authorship Policy and Resolution Procedures,” in 2021. The policy’s purpose is to provide general authorship guidelines, suggest healthy authorship practices, and provide both informal and formal steps for dispute resolution.
This page collects helpful resources for navigating authorship decisions, including links to several authorship standards and some sample case studies for discussion.
Professional Association Authorship Standards
Authorship practices often vary by discipline. We have collected several common examples below for reference, but you may need to refer to a disciplinary organization in your area of study for more specific guidance.
- Association for Computing Machinery: https://www.acm.org/publications/policies/roles-and-responsibilities
- IEEE: https://www.computer.org/publications/tech-news/research/author-common-publishing-mistakes
- American Chemical Society: https://pubs.acs.org/userimages/ContentEditor/1218054468605/ethics.pdf (see point 11)
- American Institute of Physics: https://publishing.aip.org/resources/researchers/policies-and-ethics/authors/
- American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/research/responsible/publication
- American Sociological Association: https://www.asanet.org/teaching-learning/faculty/teaching-ethics-throughout-curriculum/topic-authorship-credit
- COPE: https://publicationethics.org/authorship
- ICMJE: http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html
- Authorship case study video vignette, Office of Research Integrity: https://ori.hhs.gov/images/ddblock/SCRIPT-08-hi-res.mp4
- American Chemical and Engineering Society discussing authorship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTbaXr0Byhg
Authorship agreement form
An Authorship Agreement can help guide collaborative research teams in discussing authorship on projects intended for dissemination. Ideally, research groups will initiate authorship discussions early in a project. However, because contribution effort can vary over time, this downloadable form is also meant to be a “living document” that is revisited as appropriate over the life of the project. For additional resources on authorship, please review the Resources listed above.