Dueling Co-Authors: How Collaborators Create and Sometimes Solve Contributorship Conflicts

Jan Youtie, Barry Bozeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Publishing is central to the academic reward system. Contributorship issues loom large in this context. The need for fairness in authorship decisions is upheld in most collaborations, yet some collaborations are plagued by “nightmare” issues ranging from inappropriate authorship credit to author order issues to exploitation of students and postdocs. This present work analyzes the mechanisms that researchers use for addressing problems in research collaboration and authorship. The data are derived from face-to-face, phone or Skype interviews with 60 university researchers. The extent to which author crediting decisions are explicitly or implicitly communicated and communicated in advance versus in the aftermath of the completion of research are central features in conflict resolution. Explicit approaches are associated with fields characterized by large or infrastructure-intensive projects, whereas implicit approaches often represent unspoken discipline-based norms. Efforts to educate students in how to manage authoring decisions tend to use advance methods. Problems stemming from a difficult researcher’s actions cross these categories. Early communication would seem to be useful for issue resolution, but it is not widely used in part because it can lock-in to an author crediting plan too tightly and reduce flexibility as research directions change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
StateAccepted/In press - Jul 2 2016


  • Authorship
  • Contributorship
  • Crediting
  • Research collaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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