How do research faculty in the biosciences evaluate paper authorship criteria?
by Timothy KassisAuthorship of peer-reviewed journal articles and abstracts has become the primary currency and reward unit in academia. Such a reward is crucial for students and postdocs who are often under-compensated and thus highly value authorship as an incentive. While numerous scientific and publishing organizations have written guidelines for determining author qualifications and author order, there remains much ambiguity when it comes to how these criteria are weighed by research faculty. Here, we sought to provide some initial insight on how faculty view the relative importance of 11 criteria for scientific authorship. We distributed an online survey to 564 biomedical engineering, biology, and bioengineering faculty members at 10 research institutions across the United States. The response rate was approximately 18%, resulting in a final sample of 102 respondents. Results revealed an agreement on some criteria, such as time spent conducting experiments, but there was a lack of agreement regarding the role of funding procurement. This study provides quantitative assessments of how faculty members in the biosciences evaluate authorship criteria. We discuss the implications of these findings for researchers, especially new graduate students, to help navigate the discrepancy between official policies for authorship and the contributions that faculty truly value.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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