Week 7: Who Should be an author on that paper?

It is clearly evident, that authorship rules vary from discipline to discipline. However, some things about authorship are clear, and aren’t that difficult to be followed. First of all, an author of a paper has to actually contribute to the paper. Someone who didn’t do anything for the sake of the paper shouldn’t get authorship on it. That’s first and foremost. Second, students shouldn’t put random authors on their paper because they’ve done them a favor before. That’s just not right. Third, if someone works on a team but didn’t contribute to a paper, they can’t also be an author. It doesn’t make sense.

Evidently, when I began this section, all I could think of was Dean DePauw’s advice in last semester’s course about authorship. If different folks are working on a paper, they should agree on who deserves authorship and how to divide the work.  In addition, based on the division of work, one should know who deserves first authorship versus third authorship. Some disciplines require authors to both contribute intellectually and to the written product in order to get authorship. In ECE many times the first author is the one who writes the paper. At the same time he or she contributes the most to the material formulated.  Anyone who contributed to the intellectual product should be considered an author.

Authorship is a complicated topic, because academia has a lot of different fields that handle this topic differently. One may be in a field that puts names on papers in alphabetical order as stated here. Disciplines treat authorship differently, and this should be taken in mind. This complicates the issue greatly. I recall a medicine article last semester which required all the authors to contribute to the writing and the intellectual property in the paper. This is essential for a good paper in medicine.

When thinking about the arts, they don’t exactly have an issue with plagiarism per say. They allow people to copy and take info from each other. That is different than a lot of fields. Or you would thinks so until you realize that “Everything is a Remix”. 

When you consider the “Everything is a Remix” concept, you realize that everyone is picking up info from other people in other disciplines. The difference is they’re giving other people credit in the form of citations, or in the form of credits on a movie or so. I think it’s all the same, but how others are acknowledged differs, essentially.

So long as integrity and fairness is mastered , authorship can be mastered as well.