Publication and Authorship
It is important to ensure that the results of research are published as, in order for research to be of a benefit to society, the outcomes and results need to be known and accessible by others. This includes the ability of other researchers to use these results to further current knowledge. In addition, when public money is used to fund research, there is a responsibility to report on how that money was spent.
In order for other researchers and society to be able to rely on and trust the results of research, it is essential that publications are accurate and honest with regards to the outcome/s, the methods used and who conducted the research. The UCL Code of Conduct for Research for sets out guidance on the process of publication in section 4.
If inaccuracies are found in published work, these should be corrected as soon as possible to ensure that only the correct version is being used or relied upon by others.
- Things to ensure
- Adherence to the guidelines for the publication you intend to submit to.
- Accurate referencing; including that of other researchers and your own previous publications.
- Acknowledgement of the contributions made by the research team.
- Authorship limited to those who have made a significant contribution to the paper (see authorship).
- Any actual or potential conflicts of interest are declared.
- Things to avoid
- Self-plagiarism; though the paper may include mention and extracts to your own previous work, this still needs to be accurately referenced.
- Duplicate publication; publishing papers in more than one publication without acknowledging previous publications.
- Duplicate submission; submitting papers to more than one publisher which includes different papers where substantial proportions of the text or data are identical.
- Salami slicing; dividing results across more than one publication, where the results relate to the same methods, population and research question.
Training and Advice
For further guidance on publication ethics and a list of available training for UCL staff and students, please visit the Training page.
UCL Press is the first fully Open Access University
Press in the UK, focussing its publishing activity on scholarly monographs, scholarly
editions, textbooks, edited collections and journals. You can find out
more about Open Access in the Policy and Guidelines section. Full
information on how to publish with UCL Press, including guidance on
submissions, house style and referencing see the Publish with UCL Press
Authorship on publications can be a sensitive issue and one that can often raise disputes amongst research teams. It is strongly recommended therefore that researchers discuss and agree authorship as early as possible so as to avoid later disputes. It is also worth noting that the balance of contribution can alter over time, and so if this occurs researchers may find it beneficial to revisit authorship prior to publication.
Multi-disciplinary research presents more challenges for collaborations with regards to authorship as the accepted ‘norms’ vary across disciplines; from listing only those who have contributed to the writing of the papers itself, to a list of hundreds.
Due to the sensitivities authorship can raise, it is understandable that some may be hesitant to raise the question of authorship at an early stage. However given the variances and the importance of accuracy not only for the publication but in recognising contributions, it is a matter that should be openly addressed early on in the research.
Incorrect authorship goes beyond raising disputes amongst research teams to matters of research integrity and good research conduct. The RCUK Policy and Guidelines on the Governance of Good Research Conduct states that unacceptable research conduct includes ‘Misrepresentation of involvement, such as inappropriate claims to authorship and/or attribution of work where there has been no significant contribution, or the denial of authorship where an author has made a significant contribution’.
In addition, UCL’s procedure for investigating allegations of misconduct in academic research includes ghost writing within the description of misconduct. It defines ghost writing as ‘when someone has made substantial contributions to writing a manuscript and this role is not mentioned in the manuscript itself. Ghost-writers generally work on behalf of companies, or agents acting for those companies, with a commercial interest in the topic’.