A theoretical foundation for the ethical distribution of authorship in multidisciplinary publications
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofKennedy Institute of ethics journal ; vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 371-411.
Publisher(s)Johns Hopkins University Press
In academia, authorship on publications confers merit as well as responsibility. The respective disciplines adhere to their “typical” authorship practices: individuals may be named in alphabetical order (e.g., in economics, mathematics), ranked in decreasing level of contribution (e.g., biomedical sciences), or the leadership role may be listed last (e.g., laboratory sciences). However, there is no specific, generally accepted guidance regarding authorship distribution in multidisciplinary teams, something that can lead to significant tensions and even conflict. Using Scanlon’s contractualism as a basis, I propose a conceptual foundation for the ethical distribution of authorship in multidisciplinary teams; it features four relevant principles: desert, just recognition, transparency, and collegiality. These principles can serve in the development of a practical framework to support ethical and nonarbitrary authorship distribution, which hopefully would help reduce confusion and conflict, promote agreement, and contribute to synergy in multidisciplinary collaborative research.