Curious about the process for deciding who should be named as an author on papers, or whose name should appear first? Read on to find out!

How does Monash define authorship?

Monash University adheres to its policy and procedure on Research Authorship and Attribution, which basically states that in order to be named as an author on a paper or poster presentation, you must have made a substantial intellectual contribution.

Information on Intellectual Property (IP) can be found in chapter 6.1 of the Doctoral Handbook.

Click here for a definition of authorship under the Copyright Act.

What counts as a substantial intellectual contribution?

What constitutes a substantial contribution is where it can get a bit murky. However it does mean more than just having a quick look at something and correcting a couple of typos.

The linked policies above include the rules governing an entitlement to be named as author, such as:

  • conception and design of the project;
  • significant or non-routine collection of data that has required significant intellectual judgement and input;
  • analysis or interpretation of data for the creation of the research output, where this contributes to the intellectual shaping of the research; and/or
  • drafting significant parts of the research output or critically revising it in a way that contributes to its interpretation.

There is no automatic right for supervisors to be named on their students’ papers just by virtue of being the supervisor – they must have made a significant contribution.

Sometimes a supervisor may have made a significant contribution just in setting up the initial problem for a student – the problem may have been formulated as a result of the supervisor’s own extensive research in the area. The supervisor may also make a significant contribution through substantial editing of the paper.

You need to decide what, if any, the contribution has been to your research by each of the academics involved.

What about joint papers?

When you start working on a joint paper, it is a good idea to have a discussion about authorship (including who will be the first-named author) with your co-authors.

Your supervisor or graduate coordinator should be able to provide you with advice on “usual practice” in your discipline, but keep in mind that “usual practice” arguments do not provide a valid reason for breaching the stated university position on authorship.

How can the MGA help me?

Sometimes, you may find yourself unsure if someone should be attributed authorship. This might be you seeking credit for your hard work, or another researcher asking for authorship when you’re not sure they have done enough.

An MGA advocate can help give you detailed advice on your particular situation if you are unsure as to what to do.

Do you have any questions about authorship?

Get some independent advice from the MGA by booking an appointment with an MGA advocate.

Got questions? We have answers!

To get in contact with one of our advocates, please book an appointment via email. Alternatively, you can complete the form below and an MGA Advocate will be in touch within 1-2 working days.

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