We often receive emails from graduate students enquiring 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!

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

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 graduate students don’t appreciate that their 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.

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.

You can also talk to the MGA advocates for more detailed advice on your particular situation if you are still unsure as to what you should do.

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.

Do you have any questions about authorship?

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

Book an appointment with an MGA advocate

To get in contact with one of our advocates, please book an appointment via email. Alternatively, you can call the Clayton (9905 3197) or Caulfield (9903 1880) office to speak to one of our advocates.

Clayton office:

James Breheny

Caulfield office:

Sarah Murphy

Ying Xu