Avoiding plagiarism :Guideline 25-Authorship in faculty-student collaborations

Authorship in faculty-student collaborations
Undergraduates, and certainly graduate students, are increasingly involved in
research collaboration with their faculty. Along with high grade point averages and scores
on standardized testing, undergraduate research experience is one of the most valued
criteria for advanced graduate training. As a result, an increasing number of
undergraduates are becoming involved in research and authoring journal articles.
Are the authorship guidelines for students different than those for other
professionals? Apparently not.
According to Fine and Kurdek (1993) who have written on these issues. According to these
authors:
“To be included as an author on a scholarly publication, a student should, in a
cumulative sense, make a professional contribution that is creative and intellectual
in nature, that is integral to completion of the paper, and that requires an
overarching perspective of the project. Examples of professional contributions
include developing the research design, writing portions of the manuscript,
integrating diverse theoretical perspectives, developing new conceptual models,
designing assessments, contributing to data analysis decision and interpreting
results …” (p. 1145).
Faculty mentors might think of the above guidelines for students as being rather
harsh. However, consider part of the rationale for these authors’ position that awarding
authorship to an undeserving student is unethical:
“First, a publication on one’s record that is not legitimately earned may falsely
represent the individual’s scholarly expertise. Second, if because he or she is now
a published author, the student is perceived as being more skilled than a peer who
is not published, the student is given an unfair advantage professionally. Finally, if
the student is perceived to have a level of competence that he or she does not
actually have, he or she will be expected to accomplish tasks that may be outside
the student’s range of expertise” (p. 1143).
On the other hand, there is evidence suggesting that students’ earned authorship
credit is sometimes underrepresented or outright denied by supervising faculty (Swazey,
Anderson, & Lewis, 1993; Tarnow, 1999). Clearly, such outcomes are equally unethical as
they rob the deserving student of their due credit.
GUIDELINE 25: Faculty-student collaborations should follow the
same criteria to establish authorship. Mentors must exercise great
care to neither award authorship to students whose contributions do
not merit it, nor to deny authorship and due credit to the work of
students.

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