Authorship on scientific publications is a means of acknowledging a researcher's contribution and also recognizing their responsibility for the research. In contemporary health science, there are an increasing number of individuals named as authors on publications; while many will be relatively small teams (5-10 individuals), there are also examples where more than a hundred individuals from different institutions, disciplines, and cultures are named on a publication. In multidisciplinary health research, many disciplinary norms regarding authorship distribution and order will coexist. Disagreements and tensions occur regarding appropriate authorship, which has a significant negative effect on the efficacy, progress and the integrity of the health sciences. The objective of this study is thus to explore authorship practices in multidisciplinary health science collaborations.
More specifically, this project seeks to 1) understand the level to which the extent of multidisciplinarity (those working in multidisciplinary teams) influences ethical practices of authorship distribution in health science teams; and 2) identify the factors that contribute to conflict regarding authorship in multidisciplinary teams, including authority, financial interest, seniority, project ownership, career interests, gender, among others. An online survey will be distributed to a total of 25,000 Canadian and U.S. researchers who have published in health science journals in the last two years. Once the data is collected, quantitative analyses will be used in order to describe, compare and contrast how multidisciplinarity affects norms regarding authorship.
This understanding of authorship distribution will allow us to develop and test ways to reduce conflicts and better manage ethical issues regarding authorship practices in multidisciplinary health science teams.