Course Catalog 2023-2024

Appendix D: Guidelines for Authorship, Ownership and Acknowledgement


For many students, work in a graduate program constitutes the first experience of professionally reporting and writing results from research projects in which many persons, in varying roles, may have been involved. The Code of Ethics for the National Association of Social Workers states the following:

4.02. Acknowledging Credit 

  1. Social workers should take responsibility and credit, including authorship, for work they have actually performed and to which they have contributed.
  2. Social workers should honestly acknowledge the contributions made by others.

Authorship is viewed as a nourishing experience for the academic environment. Therefore, the role of the mentor in this process is to assist the student in learning the craft of scholarly writing and to facilitate the student's career and his/her publishing record.

The following guidelines develop these ideas with considerable specificity. It is hoped that they will be helpful as students begin work with faculty and other students on research projects and publications.

Authorship of Research Paper 

  1. Faculty members should formulate and discuss their general philosophy and practices for publication credit with students and colleagues prior to beginning a research project. A student should feel free to ask a faculty member about these matters. Such a discussion does not imply commitment to a particular authorship assignment, but there should be agreement on the principles and practices to be followed should collaboration ensue.
  2. The determination of and order of authorship in faculty-student collaborations should be guided by the principles proposed by Fine and Kurdek (1993): 
    1. Early in the collaborative endeavor, the faculty members should provide the student with information related to how authorship decisions are made, the nature of professional and nonprofessional contributions to publications, the meaning of authorship credit and order, and the importance of both parties agreeing on what contributions will be expected of each collaborator for a given level of authorship credit. This information will provide the student with the knowledge necessary to exercise his or her autonomy and to choose whether to participate in the authorship determination process.
    2. The faculty member and student should assess the specific abilities of each collaborator, the tasks required for completing the scholarly publication, the extent of supervision required, and appropriate expectations for what each collaborator can reasonably contribute to the project.
    3. On the basis of this assessment, the collaborators should discuss and agree on what tasks, contributions, and efforts are required of both parties to warrant authorship and to determine the order of authorship.
    4. Agreements regarding authorship credit need to be renegotiated for two reasons. First, scholarly projects often take unexpected turns that necessitate changes in initial agreements made in good faith. Second, many manuscripts need to be revised substantially before they are accepted for publication. These revisions may require additional professional contributions beyond those necessary for the completion of the initial draft of the manuscript. Since the relative contributions of authors often changes over the course of a project, the faculty member and student should agree on when these issues will be revisited (e.g., at the end of the semester of an independent study, at the end of a summer research assistantship, when a proposal is due for a conference, when a draft article is ready for submission to a journal, etc.). If either the faculty member or student feels it is desirable, they may consider drafting a brief memorandum summarizing their verbal agreement regarding authorship and the division of labor.

Authorship should be based on the following 4 criteria:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and
  • Final approval of the version to be published; and
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Order of Authorship

Student-faculty research collaboration commonly leads to conference or other public presentations as well as to publications in journals or books. It is recommended that the issue of authorship assignment be discussed at the earliest feasible point in the collaboration so that possible misunderstandings can be avoided. In such discussion, it is recommended that the general APA guidelines as presented in the article by Bridgewater, Bornstein, and Walkenbach (1981) be followed:

  1. design and manuscript writing warrants first authorship;
  2. data collection, analysis, and literature reviews are minor contributions and do not warrant senior authorship;
  3. the amount of time devoted is not to be a criterion, but rather the quality of the contribution; and
  4. faculty status should not make a difference in assigning first authorship.


The student author is expected to be the lead author on any publication version of the comprehensive exam and the dissertation. The justification for this rule is that the School requires that both the comprehensive exam and the dissertation be based on original contribution by the student as well as leadership on their part in carrying the project.

Faculty members may have a justifiable claim to co-authorship on comprehensive exam and dissertation-based publications as they frequently involve significant degree of collaboration with, and mentoring by, faculty.

It is recommended that agreement regarding authorship should be reviewed before the writing for publication is undertaken and at the time of submission. If disagreements arise, a third party using these guidelines should resolve them.

Acknowledgments and Credits

Regardless of authorship, assignment on a published version of a dissertation, both (a) the fact that the research was based on a dissertation project, and (b) the name of the author of the dissertation are to be included in the footnote to the published manuscript. Financial support of the research (grants or studentships) is also to be acknowledged in a footnote that includes the name(s) of the granting organization(s) and the recipient(s).

No policies or procedures can prevent the occurrence of all instances of actual or perceived unfair treatment. Although inequities can occur to either faculty or graduate students, graduate students are usually more vulnerable to faculty practices and less able to take action when they feel that fairness has been violated.