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Australian Code for the Conduct of Responsible Research


Attribution of authorship

Must be based on a substantial intellectual contribution in a combination of:

  • Conception and design of the project;
  • Analysis and interpretation of the research data;
  • Drafting significant parts of the work or critically revising it in a way that contributes to the interpretation.

The term ‘editor’

  • Should be applied only to a person who played a significant intellectual role in shaping the publication.

Authorship is NOT:

  • tied to a position (e.g., supervisor) or to personal friendship;
  • dependent on whether contribution was paid or voluntary;
  • providing materials or technical support (providing data or material from third parties, routine research assistance, copy editing, acquisition of funding, etc.).

Agreement on authorship

  • Agreement on authorship should be reached at an early stage of collaboration, reviewed periodically and revised where appropriate.
  • All authors must give permission to be included.
  • A person who qualifies as an author cannot be excluded without their permission.
  • Permission should be in writing and include a brief description of the contribution.

Acknowledge other contributions fairly

  • Ensure proper acknowledgement of all contributions that do not qualify for authorship;
  • Where persons are named, their written consent must be obtained.

Keep records of authorship agreement

  • Department of lead author must retain written acknowledgement of authorship as above.
  • Your departmental IRIS co-ordinator has a folder for these.
  • Can be signed hard copy or email/fax etc.
  • This also applies to published conference papers, abstracts, etc.
  • If a co-author is deceased or otherwise uncontactable, publication can proceed if there are no grounds to believe the person would object. Make and keep a record.

Additional points

Order of authors on publications

  • There are some discipline-based conventions on the order of author names which are often not understood outside the discipline (e.g. on promotion committees, grant panels).
  • The majority of disciplines interpret the first name appearing as the lead author (i.e., the person who has contributed most).
  • Use of alphabetical order is therefore likely to mislead.
  • Normally, where a publication derives from a student thesis, the student’s name is first.
  • It is important that all authors reach agreement prior to submission for publication.

In case of a dispute:

  • Get a neutral party to mediate – e.g. HoD, ADR, ADHDR  – before submission.
  • Not getting agreement before publication amounts to a breach of the Code.
  • Breaches of the Code are dealt with at Departmental level.
  • Persistent or repeated breaches of the Code amount to Research Misconduct and must be dealt with by a University disciplinary procedure.