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Responsible Conduct of STEM Research: Authorship

Tips and sources to help you conduct sci-tech research in an ethical and responsible manner.

From the experts

Watch the ACS video "How to Write a Paper to Communicate Your Research."  See more ACS Research 101 videos.

From the experts

Watch the ACS video "Publishing Your Research 101 - Ep.5
Ethical Considerations for Authors and Reviewers."  See more ACS Research 101 videos.

for Grad Students

Best Practices

Transparency:

  • Who funded the research or the publication process?
  • Who did the work? Who merits authorship? Which non-authors merit an acknowledgement?
  • Is the work original? Has the research been published before?  Are primary data sources identified?
  • Follow responsible publication practices.

Authorship:

  • How is collaborative research defined in your discipline?
  • Establish roles and authorship at the beginning of a project, and create partnering agreements.  Who should be the authors of your article, and who merits acknowledgement rather than authorship?  
  • Consider the widely-recognized standards of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which state authorship credit should be based on:
    • 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
    • 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and
    • 3) final approval of the version to be published.
    • Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.

Overlapping publication:

  • Does your submission meet editors' definitions of "original" work?
  • Is your work acceptable as a clearly-labeled duplicate or secondary work?
  • Rules may vary for publishing works that were originally presented orally or as a poster at a conference.  Check with the editors.
  • Check Publishers' Guidelines (box at right) for examples of instructions and definitions.

Reusing text or images from published articles:

  • Permissions for reuse are controlled by the publisher of each article.  Most publishers provide a form or instructions for requesting permission to use their material.  The permission response will state the text you must include in your work.
  • If you cannot identify a publisher, contact the copyright holder for permission.  The author may be the copyright holder.
  • Many publishers do not explicitly address reuse in dissertations.  On the permission form, clearly state your intent to reuse material in your dissertation.
  • Examples of permission instructions: ACS general, ACS dissertations, Elsevier, IEEE, RSC, Springer, Wiley.

Authorship case studies - learning tools

Publishers' Guidelines

Many publishers provide instructions that govern manuscript preparation and intellectual property rights.  These instructions may guide your responsible writing and citing practices.  Examples:

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