Project time line: 2016 – 2018

Disputes on authorship are common across fields and may concern not only who is to be named (e.g. issues related to ghost authorship and honorary authorship), but also the sequence in which the authors should be listed. The goal of this study is to investigate South African researchers’ understanding and experiences of authorship ethics and the impact of research incentives on publication behaviour and authorship ethics. There are three phases to addressing this goal.

In its first phase, the research focuses on direct and indirect research incentives and rewards to researchers in South Africa and its possible impact on authorship practices. The second phase investigates researchers’ understanding of issues related to academic and scientific authorship, including their perceived ability to implement authorship principles in an academic work environment, and possible challenges encountered with, and perspectives on, publication incentives. The third phase sets out to unpack researchers’ perceptions of publication incentives, authorship principles, and related politics of capacity building in academia, including issues of redress.

The knowledge generated from the data may help us to better understand how researchers think about academic and scientific authorship; their perceived ability to implement recognised guidelines for authorship within a context that promotes research integrity and responsible conduct; and the nature, or impact on publication behaviour and authorship practices, of incentive schemes in universities and research institutions. We are interested not only in normative views on this issue, but also in experiences of disputes and difficulties in making decisions about authorship, and responses to publication incentives. The question of authorship is an important ethical one, and affects people’s careers, as a publication list is one of the most significant measures of academic and scientific performance.

Research team