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SRJ manuscript authorship is a means by which we communicate the results of authors’ scholarly input and output, establish priority for their discoveries, and build their reputation among their peers with a view to giving them a veritable ground to be evaluated for employment, promotion, and tenure. In line with SRJ editorial tenets, authorship of a work is claimed by those making intellectual contributions to the completion of the research described in the work.

Determining SRJ Authorship

In line with SRJ editorial policy, authorship is limited to those who have contributed substantially to the work, as such authors are strongly encouraged to indicate their specific contributions as a footnote. In other words, authorship is someone who is involved in the writing of an article, including those who have made considerable contributions to a study such as formulating the problem or hypothesis, structuring the experimental design, organizing and conducting the statistical analysis, interpreting the results, or writing a major portion of the paper. Institutional position, such as Department Chair, is considered by SRJ as insufficient for attributing or justifying authorship.

Authors are those who also share responsibility and accountability for the results as well as bear responsibility for its contents. Thus, 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. We advise that authors be listed in alphabetical order of their last names, irrespective of their contribution to the work.

In order to be considered an author by SRJ, one must have satisfied all three conditions:

  • Contributed significantly to the conception and design of the study, the acquisition of data, or the analysis and interpretation
  • Drafting or providing critical revision of the article, and
  • Provided final approval of the version to be published

The acquisition of funding, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.

Other forms of Authorship

Honorary authorship

Honorary authorship is sometimes granted to those who played no significant role in the work, but in the view of SRJ, such practices dilute the credit due the people who actually did the work, inflate the credentials of those so 'honored,' and make the proper attribution of credit more difficult.  However, it is advised that every article include a statement of responsibility that specifies the contribution of every author.

Ghost authorship

Ghost authorship occurs when an individual makes a substantial contribution to the research but is not listed as an author. Ghost authorship has been linked to partnerships between industry and higher education. Authors are sometimes included in a list without their permission. Even if this is done with the kind intention to acknowledge some contributions, it is awkward since authors carry responsibility for accuracy and thus need to have the opportunity to check the manuscript and possibly demand changes.

Anonymous and unclaimed authorship

Authors occasionally give up claiming authorship, for a number of reasons.  In the past, some authors have published anonymously to shield themselves when presenting controversial claims. A case in point is Robert Chambers' anonymous publication of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, a speculative, pre-Darwinian work on the origins of life and the cosmos. The book argued for an evolutionary view of life in the same spirit as the late Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Lamarck had long been discredited among intellectuals by this time and evolutionary (or development) theories were exceedingly unpopular, except among the political radicals, materialists, and atheists - Chambers hoped to avoid Lamarck's fate.

In the 18th century, Émilie du Châtelet began her career as a scientific author by submitting a paper in an annual competition held by the French Academy of Sciences; papers in this competition were submitted anonymously. Initially presenting her work without claiming authorship allowed her to have her work judged by established scientists while avoiding the bias against women in the sciences. She did not win the competition, but eventually her paper was published alongside the winning submissions, under her real name.

Scientists and engineers working in corporate and military organizations are often restricted by SRJ from publishing and claiming authorship of their work because their results are considered secret property of the organization that employs them.

SRJ Order of authors in a list

Rules for the order of multiple authors in a list vary significantly from field to field, though they are more often consistent within a field of research. Some fields list authors in order of their degree of involvement in the work, with the most active contributors listed first. Others list them alphabetically. Biologists tend to place a supervisor or lab head last in an author list; organic chemists might put him or her first.

Although listing authors in order of the involvement in the project seems straighforward, it often leads to conflict. A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that more than two-thirds of 919 corresponding authors disagreed with their coauthors regarding contributions of each author.

Responsibility of authors and of co-authors

It is our belief that all co-authors should be able to understand and support the major points of the paper. An author's reputation can be damaged when he allows his name to be used on a paper he does not completely understand or was not intimately involved with. In a prominent case, Gerald Schatten, an American stem cell researcher had his name listed on a paper co-authored with Hwang Woo-Suk, that was later revealed to be fraudulent. Although Schatten is not accused of participating in the fraud, a panel at his university found that "his failure to more closely oversee research with his name on it does make him guilty of 'research misconduct.’

All authors, including coauthors, are usually expected to have made reasonable attempts to check findings submitted for publication. In some cases coauthors of faked research have been accused of inappropriate behavior or research misconduct for failing to verify reports authored by others or by a commercial sponsor. Examples include the cases of Geoffrey Chamberlain who co-authored papers with Malcolm Pearce and the co-authors of Jan Hendrik Schön at Bell Laboratories. More recent cases include Charles Nemeroff, former editor-in-chief of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the so-called Sheffield Actone affair.

To this end, authors are expected to keep all study data for later examination even after publication. Both scientific and academic censure can result from a failure to keep primary data; the case of Ranjit Chandra of Memorial University of Newfoundland provides an example of this. Authors are also commonly required to provide information about ethical aspects of research, particularly where research involves human or animal participants or use of biological material. Provision of incorrect information to ISJ journals may be regarded as misconduct

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