Bourbonniere MC et al 2006
It is recognised that authorship, in terms of who is an author
on a paper and the order of author’s names, can be a tricky issue;
especially in projects that involve a number of colleagues and/or
students. This is because publication has a critical role to play
in the careers of researchers so it can be a source of
This paper presents a critical discussion of the authorship
issue. It came about because a research team, CanChild, decided
they needed to develop authorship guidelines to acknowledge
authorship and to prevent possible misunderstandings. Their
experience is described and reflected upon as a case study. The
different approaches to assigning authorship identified in the
literature are summarised as a preface to the description of how
they developed their guidelines. This summary is useful for anyone,
like me, who is new to this topic. They used one of the approaches
they found (the University of Wollagong guidelines) as the starting
point for their team’s guidelines. Their ambition was develop
guidelines which were explicit and flexible.
As a result of their experiences Bourbonniere and colleagues
- It is important to have early and ongoing discussion between
all potential authors.
- Authorship should be a regular agenda item at project
- The project investigator (PI) is responsible for negotiating
expectations about authorship particularly when team members leave
or join projects part way through.
- Usually the PI has first opportunity to take lead authorship on
the lead article
- Having a written and disseminated plan of publications for the
project (they illustrated this point with a study publication grid
that they developed for the CanChild project).
- The assigning of authorship should be explicit before the
writing process begins.
- Drafts should not be circulated for review until authorship has
- Having a role for readers who read later drafts and provide
general feedback; these people should be acknowledged but there
should not be an expectation of authorship
- Using their guidelines as a starting point for discussion about
authorship in a research team.
This all seems like sensible advice to me. On the face of it the
guidelines developed and the study publication grid presented in
the paper suggest that CanChild have developed workable guidelines.
However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating; we are going to
use the guidelines as a basis for discussion of authorship in the
Measure of Participation (MOP) team.
The link to the CanChild guidelines on authorship is
If you would like to read the article the full reference
Bourbonniere MC, Russell DJ, Goldsmith CH (2006) Authorship issues:
One research centre’s experience with developing author guidelines.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy 60 (1) 111-117.