Authorship Scenarios

The following scenarios were created and brought to a CanChild team meeting for discussion. The names and events are fictitious but were developed to initiate discussion of possible authorship dilemmas and to determine how the authorship guidelines could be applied. We encourage other groups to develop scenarios that they can use to open up dialogue about authorship issues relevant to them.

Scenario 1

A busy researcher had his research assistant work to pull together a grant proposal. Amelia did a fantastic job reviewing the literature, making practical and methodological suggestions and writing sections of the grant. She was acknowledged by having her name listed as one of the co-investigators. The study was funded but she went on to pursue graduate work at another university and couldn’t manage to stay involved with the study. Two years later, as her thesis was nearing completion, she reconnected with the study group and wondered if she could help with any of the analyses or paper writing. Hoping to improve her CV with some peer-reviewed publications, Amelia had no specific topic in mind but was eager to help anywhere she could.

Scenario 2

Alex was co-investigator on a CanChild project but by the time the funding came through found he was too busy to attend meetings. He told the team he couldn’t be actively involved but asked to be kept informed via the minutes. The team is planning the primary results paper and remembered their guideline that all co-investigators should be authors on the principle paper arising from the study.

Scenario 3

Amanda is a chiropractor and a co-investigator on a study. She has been working with the research team by participating regularly in team meetings and providing clinical and methodological input. She receives an email from a colleague suggesting that she should consider presenting at an upcoming chiropractic conference in the south of France. She has been taking the lead looking at some data on spinal manipulation and has used the team to bounce off some of her ideas and get some guidance on possible variables to explore. A research assistant ran some of the statistical analyses under the direction of the study statistician and these will likely come in useful for the abstract. Unfortunately the deadline for the abstract is only 5 days away and at least one team members is out of town. Should Amanda submit the abstract? If so, how should she decide on who should be authors and in what order they should be listed?

Scenario 4

Arnold was a respected clinician going through the HRM program and was keen to get some research experience. He joined an ongoing CanChild project under the supervision of one of the co-investigators. The study was in its final year of three years of funding. During one of the meetings an idea was raised by one of the team members and discussed at length with those around the table. Arnold offered to do a literature search and some preliminary analyses of the data relevant to the research question. Arnold took it upon himself to collate the information and circulate it to the research team. He received feedback from several team members, some of which was very helpful and other comments that were more editorial. Two people didn’t respond, one indicating that she would be out of town (in the south of France). Arnold’s supervisor thinks that it would be a good experience for Arnold to write a paper and Arnold is keen to do so.

Scenario 5

An article submitted to a journal required significant revisions, including re-analysis of the data. Adam was the first author and the other 3 authors were listed in order of contribution. Adam was eager to take the lead on the analyses and resubmit as soon as possible. The second and third authors were unavailable to help with the resubmission so the author who was named last on the original submission worked closely with the first author to make the necessary revisions to the text. Should she be moved up the author order?

Scenario 6

A CanChild CIHR funded study group is approached by a group of reputable researchers. The researchers are interested in using part of the large CanChild dataset to explore an issue that is not of particular interest to the CanChild team. Should we give them the data? Should we expect authorship? Are there any “rules” which should be followed prior to allowing external people access to this data?

Scenario 7

A high-profile study about autism was undertaken by a group of researchers from several universities. Around the world the team became known as the “Autism Research Group” but they had never formally published under that name. As the major study came to conclusion, the research team realised that different aspects of the study could be published in journals spanning a variety of academic disciplines and reaching many audiences. Some members of the team suggested that all articles arising from the study be attributed to the “Autism Research Group” to capitalize on the recognition this group had generated. Use of the group name would also serve to unify the wide range of works together. Other researchers argued that publishing under the group name would diminish their personal contributions and not be helpful when they were being considered for promotion and tenure.

Scenario 8

Alice is an art therapist who worked for three years with CanChild as a research assistant. During that time she was involved in the development of a measure, “The Colour-Aggression Relationship Test” (CART) and was first author on a major article describing its development. After Alice had moved on to pursue other interests the research team developed a CART manual for purchase and distribution. The original article served as a backbone for the manual, though significant additions were incorporated.

Scenario 9

Andrea and Ally, two members of the Treat-Time research team, have taken a small part of the data to explore an area of interest to them (is there a relation between body weight and participation at Treat-Time meetings). Andrea is a tenured faculty member and Ally is hoping to go for tenure in the next year or two. They meet regularly and have updated the team on their progress and have asked if anyone else on the team wants to be involved. While the topic is of interest to some of the team members, previous commitments prevent them from attending sub-group meetings. Andrea and Ally have worked closely and have contributed equally. Ally needs a first-authored publication in order to apply for tenure, but Andrea is the PI on this funded grant.