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Co-authorship with the supervisor


User: LottLin - 13 January 2014 23:33

What merits inclusion of a supervisor as co-author on a Social Science journal article? If the PhD student has done all planning, fieldwork and writing on their own, the work is their own, and the supervisors have not been directly involved, is the student still 'obliged' to include the supervisors on the paper? I don't, in theory, have a problem with this, but if I wish to use that paper (albeit in a slightly altered form) in my thesis, would having it out there as 'co-authored' be a negative? Would my work (and the extent to which it is 'my' work) be questioned?

User: wanderingbit - 14 January 2014 13:01

According to what I've been told so far (I'm on my final year, my PhD is in music psychology/performance science) it shouldn't be a problem if you have your supervisors as co-authors, as long as you're the first author! It is usual practice to have your supervisor as last author in Social Sciences, i.e. readers will also interpret it this way.

What can create issues, is to have publications where you are second author, in that case the commission would question what was your actual contribution to the work. What might also be a grey zone I assume is when you are first author, and an other researcher (not the supervisor) is the second and last one...? But I'm not sure, my sup says that as long as I'm first author, I'm fine.

I have so far one or both of my supervisors as co-auth in most of the publications I got. :-)

Cheers
w

User: Mackem_Beefy - 14 January 2014 13:10

Quote From LottLin:
What merits inclusion of a supervisor as co-author on a Social Science journal article? If the PhD student has done all planning, fieldwork and writing on their own, the work is their own, and the supervisors have not been directly involved, is the student still 'obliged' to include the supervisors on the paper? I don't, in theory, have a problem with this, but if I wish to use that paper (albeit in a slightly altered form) in my thesis, would having it out there as 'co-authored' be a negative? Would my work (and the extent to which it is 'my' work) be questioned?

You do need to try to be first / corresponding author as this implies you did the majority of work on the paper. However, even if the contrbution is minimal you should have one or both supervisors listed as co-authors as it is a common courtesy. They arguably have contributed via their supervision of you and thus deserve to be listed.

If you omit them, this could cause problems further on in your relationship with them and may affect the references they give you once you start looking for work.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)

User: bewildered - 14 January 2014 18:31

I'm a social science academic and I would not expect a PhD student to include me as an author in these circumstances. Seriously ask them but I'd be surprised if they'd expect it.

User: Fled - 14 January 2014 18:42

If it increases my chances of getting it published, said supervisor inviting me on a research team, etc then I would not hesitate to include those 10-15 odd characters of text if it was "expected" of me.

Understand the difference between your interest (getting published) vs your position (you did all the work, hence the right of authorship should be solely yours).

EDIT: Folding the article into a thesis chapter can be candidly yet tactfully explained at your viva. Well that is just my opinion of course.

User: Smiler - 14 January 2014 21:27

I've recently had issues with this. My supervisor(s) and I published some work on another research project. However, my relationship with my supervisor has soured since last year, and now an article that we both wrote (admittedly my supervisor took the lead but my contribution was more than substantial) is now being published as a single author paper.

I was told recently by my supervisors that any papers I submit are written in CONJUNCTION with my supervisors. Conjunction was written in capitals (and underlined), and it was made clear to me that this was the expectation and normal practice.

However, this will not happen with my papers... my supervisors are not experts in my particular field, just supervisors for methodological and general understanding of my field and their names on my papers would not contribute anything. I believe mine would be more acknowledgements...

I take Fled's point into consideration that it is about your interest (publications) vs your position (you doing all the work).

User: Mackem_Beefy - 14 January 2014 22:08

Quote From bewildered:
I'm a social science academic and I would not expect a PhD student to include me as an author in these circumstances. Seriously ask them but I'd be surprised if they'd expect it.

:-) That's good of you Bewildered. However, I think you are an exception.

However, I was told in no uncertain terms back during my PhD by my second supervisor that he expected his name on my paper as a co-author as a matter of courtesy. That was despite him contributing nothing technically to my PhD.

I did this for my first paper whilst I was still doing my PhD. The other papers produced after included myself and my primary, and for a couple of papers as a thank you for his early help my predecessor.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)

User: bewildered - 14 January 2014 22:36

Honestly it's very different in the social sciences to physical and natural science. The custom is that you have to have made a substantive and verifiable contribution to get authorship credit. This for example is the relevant guidance for sociology;

"Attributing Authorship

Authorship should be reserved for those, and only those, who have made significant intellectual contribution to the research. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or general supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship. Honorary authorship is not acceptable.

1) Everyone who is listed as an author should have made a substantial direct academic contribution (i.e. intellectual responsibility and substantive work) to at least two of the four main components of a typical scientific project or paper:

a) Conception or design.
b) Data collection and processing.
c) Analysis and interpretation of the data.
d) Writing substantial sections of the paper (e.g. synthesising findings in the literature review or the findings/results section).

2) Everyone who is listed as an author should have critically reviewed successive drafts of the paper and should approve the final version.

3) Everyone who is listed as author should be able to defend the paper as a whole (although not necessarily all the technical details)."
I'd say that's standard practice in social science so the OP probably wouldn't be expected to include the supervisors.

User: TreeofLife - 14 January 2014 23:08

Well I must say supervisors in social sciences can't have much involvement in the PhD at all then!

For my Biology PhD I can definitely say my supervisors have "made a substantial direct academic contribution" to A) Conception or design (The initial ideas were theirs and many of the subsequent steps) and C) Analysis and interpretation of the data (if only in the form of looking at the data and saying whether I am analysing it correctly, the next steps I need to take etc). They will probably end up (re)writing a lot of any papers I produce too in the course of "critically reviewing successive drafts of the paper and approving the final version".

What are social sciences supervisors doing then?

User: bewildered - 15 January 2014 10:39

One of the reasons that social scientists are expected to do a Masters either before or as part of their PhD is that the candidates do design their own project. In fact you have to write a fairly developed research proposal as part of the decision on who gets funding for their PhD. You don't generally apply for a ready-designed project like in science. Yes supervisors have intellectual input, read and comment on draft chapters etc, but social science PhD students are more independent than in science. Supervisors are there as advisors but the thesis is an independent original piece of research to get the degree. It's just very different. The other thing perhaps to say is that single or two-authored journal articles are the norm. Remember there are far fewer staff and PhD students in a social science department than there are in a science one, so working in large teams isn't usually possible.

User: SimonG - 15 January 2014 14:15

Firstly, I would take particular issue with bewildered's statement "... social science PhD students are more independent than in science". I am a biochemist (PhD obtained, subject to minor corrections). Not wishing to initiate or imply interdisciplinary fractiousness, I would say that I personally had very little valuable input from my supervisor, and have the satisfaction of knowing that I achieved what I achieved through my own intellect, tenacity, self-motivation, etc., etc., etc.... Yes, PhD projects in the experimental sciences do tend to be pre-proposed, but that is largely as a result of specialist methodological constraints.

Regarding LottLin's thread, I think it is generally the norm that supervisors are included on publications, regardless of discipline. I personally resent it slightly (see above), but your supervisor would have given you the opportunity to embark on this journey and probably, have gained the funding of which you are currently beneficiary (forgive me if you're not!). Acknowledging that there are good and bad supervisors, one thing that unites disciplines is that there is a largely "being exploited" aspect of doing a PhD and very few supervisors are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. What is important is that you get first authorship on what you publish. That's what counts. If your supervisor is funny about that, then you should start being bolshy.

Have you asked your supervisor outright? What are other people in your school/department doing?

User: TreeofLife - 15 January 2014 17:32

Quote From SimonG:
Firstly, I would take particular issue with bewildered's statement "... social science PhD students are more independent than in science".

Me too!

My supervisors are there to advise me, not to do the work for me. If I come to them and say 'I don't know what to do about this', they don't tell me the answer, even if they know. They tell me to go away and think about it for a few days and come to them with suggestions.

I'm at the stage now where they don't know the next steps of my research anyway, because I've already tried every avenue that should work and doesn't, and I have to come up with alternative solutions to my problems myself now. So no, I wouldn't say science students are less independent than in social sciences.