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  1. Framework for Good Practice in Research
  2. Publication, authorship and acknowledgement of contributors

Publication, authorship and acknowledgement of contributors

It is normally a condition of obtaining research funding that results are published in a recognised format. City would, however, expect all research to be published so as to be made available to the wider research community unless conditions of confidentiality have been agreed as part of a research contract or where protection of intellectual property rights is necessary for a period.

Where a researcher has been the only individual involved in producing the piece of research, he/she has responsibility to authorise its publication. Where a group of researchers has been involved in creating a piece of research, it is the responsibility of the research centre leader or principal investigator to authorise publication. In the case of research which has been funded by an external body, the principal investigator should ensure that any requirements or expectations of the funding body in regard to notification prior to publication are taken into account.

There is no universally agreed definition of authorship, however, the main features of good research practice include:

  • Generosity with the assigning of authorship to acknowledge fairly the contribution an individual has made. According to The COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) Report 1999, ‘the award of authorship should balance intellectual contributions to the conception, design, analysis and writing of the study against the collection of data and other routine work’.
  • The expectation that, where an individual is listed as an author, he/she must be able to identify his/her contributions and be familiar with the overall structure and purpose of the document, noting that some specific components of the document written by other co-authors might fall outside his/her areas of expertise.
  • That all authors accept full responsibility for the content of a publication that contains their names as authors.
  • That the use of honorary authorship is unacceptable practice. If there is no task that can reasonably be attributed to an individual, that person should not be credited with authorship.
  • That wherever possible the research is peer reviewed prior to publication.
  • That the possible impact of publication on others is taken into account prior to publication, for example the impact of clinical research on patients suffering from a condition which is the subject of the research where the findings of the study may have a negative effect on individuals.
  • Contributions made by those other than authors must be acknowledged fully and properly. This includes students acknowledging staff/supervisor contributions to their work (and vice-versa) and the appropriate acknowledgement of any sources of funding for the research.
  • That it is unacceptable practice to submit research reports to more than one potential publisher at any one time (i.e. duplicate submission) or to publish findings in more than one publication without disclosure and appropriate acknowledgement of any previous publications (i.e. duplicate publication).
  • That any actual or potential conflicts of interest should be declared when reporting research findings at meetings or in publications. Where there is, or may be, a conflict of interest (for example a researcher has been in receipt of funding, current or previous, from a company and is submitting work for publication about a product from that company) the publisher should be informed. If in doubt advice should be sought.

Practice on issues such as order of authors varies between disciplines. Links to some examples of professional body guidance on authorship are provided in the Appendix to this document.

Where a member of City encounters unwarranted pressure from any internal or external individual or body to alter (e.g. dilute, manipulate or suppress) findings arising from a piece of research, advice should be sought immediately from the Dean of School or Head of Faculty/Department/Centre. Further advice can also be obtained from the Vice-President (Research & Enterprise).

Information regarding intellectual property rights and responsibilities of members of City can be found in City’s Code of Practice Relating to Intellectual Property. Members of City are expected to be aware of and to comply with the terms of this Code. Care should be taken to avoid prior disclosure of research ideas or findings where this might invalidate any commercial property rights that could result. There is however a presumption that any intellectual property discovered or developed using public or charitable funds should be disseminated in order to have a beneficial effect on society at large, unless there is any express restriction placed on such dissemination.

Researchers are expected to adhere to any requirements set by City or by funding bodies for the deposit of publications in open access repositories and are encouraged to disseminate their research by this means wherever possible.