Best Practice to Order Authors in Multi/Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Research Publications

Elise Smith, Zubin Master

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Misunderstanding and disputes about authorship are commonplace among members of multi/interdisciplinary health research teams. If left unmanaged and unresolved, these conflicts can undermine knowledge sharing and collaboration, obscure accountability for research, and contribute to the incorrect attribution of credit. To mitigate these issues, certain researchers suggest quantitative authorship distributions schemes (e.g., point systems), while others wish to replace or minimize the importance of authorship by using “contributorship”—a system based on authors’ self-reporting contributions. While both methods have advantages, we argue that authorship and contributorship will most likely continue to coexist for multiple ethical and practical reasons. In this article, we develop a five-step “best practice” that incorporates the distribution of both contributorship and authorship for multi/interdisciplinary research. This procedure involves continuous dialogue and the use of a detailed contributorship taxonomy ending with a declaration explaining contributorship, which is used to justify authorship order. Institutions can introduce this approach in responsible conduct of research training as it promotes greater fairness, trust, and collegiality among team members and ultimately reduces confusion and facilitates resolution of time-consuming disagreements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-267
Number of pages25
JournalAccountability in Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 19 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Authorship
  • ethics and public policy
  • multidisciplinary research teams
  • publication
  • publication ethics
  • research integrity
  • responsible conduct of research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences


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