Module 9: Publishing and Authorship

Publishing

In Module 1, we saw that one of the main purposes of research was to enhance the state of knowledge of a field of scientific inquiry.  In order for a researcher’s findings to be included in the discourse surrounding a scientific question, those results must be published.  “Research results need to be disseminated quickly and in a format that ensures maximum access by those in the field who are to apply the knowledge generated. Otherwise, research creates expectations within the NGO community and study population that remain unsatisfied.”(1)  Although it is important for the results of a study to be made public, it is also vital that they be in a complete and accurate form before they are published.  Researchers must carefully collect and analyze their data, avoiding the temptation to rush their paper to publication so that they might contribute the most accurate (and therefore most helpful) information to the world research community.  Furthermore, properly publishing the results and methodology of a study allows other researchers to attempt to duplicate or improve upon the original methods.  In this way, each single study becomes part of a larger body of work that feeds off of collaboration and innovation in order to address complex questions that no single researcher could on his or her own.

Authorship

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, authorship on a given paper should be based on “1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published”(2).  Authors should have contributed to all three areas in order to be considered.(3)  It is appropriate, however, for the researcher to acknowledge, give credit to, or thank other contributors to the project in another section of the paper.  Many papers have a dedicated “Acknowledgments” section at the end (before references) so that the researcher can thank and give credit to people or institutions without which the work may not have been possible.  These influences, however, do not qualify as authors and therefore should not be listed under the researcher’s name as authors.

Footnotes

(1) Delisle, H. et. al. “The Role of NGOs in Global Health Research for Development” Health Research Policy and Systems. Vol. 3, No. 3., 2005.  Accessed 2/13/09.

(2) International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication” (Oct. 2008) Accessed 2/13/09.

(3) “Research Ethics Training Curriculum: Special Issues in Research: Authorship.”  Family Health International.  Accessed 2/12/09.