UCL unit ditches mooted authorship policy

Policy draft stated that all publications be reviewed by pair as part of ‘quality assurance’

November 6, 2014

Stories abound of senior academics figuring in author lists despite not having contributed significantly to papers, but it is rare to see such authorship policies documented.

But an early draft of a “publication protocol” drawn up by University College London’s Evidence Based Practice Unit, written in May, stated that “as part of quality assurance for all peer reviewed research publications, papers will be reviewed by and receive input from both the [unit’s] director…and the research lead…who will, therefore, be named authors on all publications”.

The draft also included a provision that “if [a paper’s] lead author leaves the unit and [the] paper [is] not yet submitted [to a journal] the role of corresponding author passes to [the] relevant programme lead [within the unit] to ensure submission”.

In a statement, the unit admits that the draft “could give rise to misinterpretation” of its policy and subsequent versions had been corrected to make clear that “authorship credit will only ever be based on substantial contribution to the research”.

The statement says that the unit’s director and research lead are currently the only principal investigators in the unit, and “all staff are working on their funded projects”. Input on the new policy – due to be agreed by the unit’s board on 18 November – was sought from all unit members, none of whom had complained about it.

All the unit’s staff are employees of children’s mental health charity the Anna Freud Centre, where the unit is based, al though some also have honorary UCL contracts.

The statement says that the passage about retaining corresponding authorship relates to the fact that first authors had in the past left before seeing papers through to publication, causing the unit to “lose oversight over submissions”.

“Because of our dependence on extramural funding, quality control over material leaving the unit is critical to our continued success. The aim of this clause is thus simply to have someone in the unit who ensures that submission remains timely and high quality is maintained in a highly policy sensitive area. If the first author was able to take [the paper] forward and wanted to be the corresponding author, that could and indeed has been agreed in the past.”

paul.jump@tesglobal.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate