February 19, 2018

Authorship Guidelines

Authorship Guidelines for EREN Pilot Projects

Collaborative projects that include many participants can have unique challenges to determining authorship on manuscripts.  The EREN Founders believe that specifying a clear authorship policy at the start of a collaborative project is a critical first step to avoiding authorship conflicts and misunderstandings.  Below are guidelines that we have developed for pilot projects funded by the EREN RCN grant.  Lead scientists who use EREN to develop their own projects with other funding sources are not obligated to follow these guidelines, but we strongly encourage lead scientists and their collaborators to use our guidelines as a framework to create an authorship policy that fits their project.  Some items to consider in a policy:
  • Identifying lead authors for particular manuscripts in advance
  • Minimum criteria for authorship for faculty and students
  • Timeline for when authors can join a project

We hope that the EREN guidelines below will provide a useful starting point for these discussions.

EREN Philosophy on Authorship

  • We will strive to be inclusive in authorship, assuming that potential authors have been active participants and made meaningful and agreed upon contributions to a given manuscript.
  • When in doubt, give published credit to all contributors (as an  acknowledgment, in appendices, or as authors).
  • The most important thing is to get high quality data published in the peer-reviewed literature.
  • The contributing author role should be enticing – the most bang for your buck.
  • More publications with less time – EREN projects are a time sink for some, but not all participants.
  • If there is no reasonable peer-reviewed outlet for the data, we will support the distribution of data through public web sites or non-traditional publishing outlets.
  • There is an expectation that you will be part of other projects outside your discipline, in trade for collaboration on projects within your discipline.  EREN considers this a professional development opportunity.
  • EREN is funded to support networking, not specific research projects.  EREN will support the development of research ideas and facilitate the formation of research groups that are writing grant proposals and models of having research form.
Authorship Policy Details

Each project has a lead scientist or author specified.  This person is the leader of the project and will be first author on the first publication from the project. The author or lead scientist:
  • Has the primary responsibility for writing and submitting the first manuscript.
  • Delegates tasks to other authors.
  • Has responsibility for the primary data analysis.
  • Presents annual progress report to EREN and coauthors by specified date. These reports can be brief, but are important because they provide metadata for the project itself and allow the opportunity for evaluation of the project progression and review of author roles.
  • 2 year deadline for submitting paper once data are ready – deadline can be extended with permission of the group, given extenuating circumstances.
  • Lead author can negotiate or delegate to give lead author status to another author after the first manuscript.
  • Each project has a secondary author specified.  This person has shared writing, analysis and delegation responsibilities as arranged with the first author, and writes the paper and becomes lead author if the lead author cannot write by the deadline.

Criteria for being a contributing author:

  • Contributes data and metadata to the project by specified deadline.
  • Reviews all drafts.
  • Accepts at least one data analysis and/or manuscript preparation task delegated by first and second authors.
  • Remains in regular communication with the Lead Scientist throughout the project.
  • Order of authorship will be determined by amount of contribution as agreed upon by the collaborative group.
  • Students (or former students) will be considered for authorship if they meet the above guidelines for a contributing author and if their contribution was part of an independent project (rather than a lab exercise, for example).  The faculty member who worked as the student’s mentor/supervisor must support the inclusion of the student or former student as an author.

Criteria for receiving published acknowledgments and/or on the EREN website can be any one of the following:

  • Contributes data.
  • Reviewing manuscripts prior to publication.
  • Provides significant statistical, laboratory, or field assistance.
  • Acknowledgment of the Ecological Research as Education Network should reference its funding source: NSF RCN-UBE 0955344.

EREN Authorship Policy for Non-Experimental Publications

Non-experimental papers include concept papers, white papers, essays, review papers, pedagogical papers, or other publications that do not report and interpret new experimental data generated by the authors.  After the paper is conceived, the collaborators will develop a written authorship policy the paper that addresses the following items:

  • Identification of the lead author or authors
  • Criteria for being a contributing author
  • Criteria for determining the order of authors
  • A policy as to whether the project will seek additional authors and when the project closes to new authors
  • A timeline for anticipated submission of the paper

To assist with transparency and communication within EREN, a brief description of the paper (two or three sentences), the authorship policy, and contact information for the lead author(s) will be posted on the EREN web page.  It is assumed that lead scientists have been contacted for prior approval if a non-experimental paper is based on unpublished data collected by a lead scientist who is not an author on the manuscript.

EREN Authorship Policy for Presentations and Posters

Authorship decisions on presentations/posters at meetings that include data from EREN projects are at the discretion of the person preparing the presentation or poster; this author should consider whether the data presented represent the collection efforts of many people or are, for example, only the data from their own location.  At minimum, we request that presentations/posters cite the database from which the data are taken (see the project pages on the EREN website for citation guidelines as data become available) and provide acknowledgment of the EREN Research Coordination Network (NSF RCN-UBE 0955344).  Also, please inform us by e-mail (erenteam@gmail.com) that the presentation occurred, so that we can report to this outcome of EREN in required annual reports to the National Science Foundation.

Authorship Grievance Procedure for EREN Pilot Projects

EREN believes that the lead author of a manuscript should have the final say on authorship, and expects all lead authors to be clear, ethical, transparent and timely in applying the authorship policy agreed upon by the members of their collaborative project.  If there is a disagreement about authorship, the person with the complaint should discuss the issue with the lead author of the manuscript.  If the disagreement is not resolved, the complaint can be brought to Leadership Working Group (LWG) who will try to facilitate further discussion and then make a written recommendation to the lead author and the person with the complaint. Members of the LWG who have a conflict of interest with the manuscript will recuse themselves from the discussion. The LWG may elect to bring in colleagues from outside the LWG or outside EREN as appropriate to help resolve the authorship dispute.

These guidelines may be amended over time as deemed necessary by the Leadership Working Group.

Last updated: 8/4/11 – L. Anderson