What Constitutes Authorship in the Social Sciences?

Author : Gernot Pruschak

Authorship represents a highly discussed topic in nowadays academia. The share of co-authored papers has increased substantially in recent years allowing scientists to specialize and focus on specific tasks.

Arising from this, social scientific literature has especially discussed author orders and the distribution of publication and citation credits among co-authors in depth. Yet only a small fraction of the authorship literature has also addressed the actual underlying question of what actually constitutes authorship.

To identify social scientists’ motives for assigning authorship, we conduct an empirical study surveying researchers around the globe. We find that social scientists tend to distribute research tasks among (individual) research team members. Nevertheless, they generally adhere to the universally applicable Vancouver criteria when distributing authorship.

More specifically, participation in every research task with the exceptions of data work as well as reviewing and remarking increases scholars’ chances to receive authorship. Based on our results, we advise journal editors to introduce authorship guidelines that incorporate the Vancouver criteria as they seem applicable to the social sciences.

We further call upon research institutions to emphasize data skills in hiring and promotion processes as publication counts might not always depict these characteristics.

URL : What Constitutes Authorship in the Social Sciences?

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2021.655350