General University Reference Utility
Policy IP02 CO-AUTHORSHIP OF SCHOLARLY REPORTS, PAPERS AND PUBLICATIONS (Formerly Policy RA13)
Policy Steward: Office of the Vice President for Research
It is the policy of The Pennsylvania State University that proper credit
be given to those individuals who make material contributions to
activities which lead to scholarly reports, papers and publications.
Rigid prescriptive requirements in this area are considered unwise,
because the situation with respect to co-authorship varies from one
discipline to another and from one publication to another. Nevertheless,
it is recommended that the authors of scholarly reports, papers and
publications abide by the following principles regarding co-authorship.
- Co-authorship should be offered to anyone who has clearly made a
material contribution to the work.
Moreover, each coauthor should be furnished with a copy of the
manuscript before it is submitted, and allowed an opportunity to review
it prior to submission. An author submitting a paper, report or
publication should never include the name of a coauthor without the
person's consent. Exceptional circumstances, such as death or inability
to locate a coauthor, should be handled on a case by case basis. In
cases where the contribution may have been marginal, an acknowledgment
of the contribution in the publication might be more appropriate than
- In cases of theses for advanced degrees, if any publication derived from the
thesis is not published with the degree recipient as sole author, then that
person should be listed as coauthor. In no instance should publications derived
from a thesis be published under the sole authorship of the thesis adviser.
- Anyone accepting co-authorship of a paper must realize that this
action implies a responsibility as well as a privilege. As a general
rule, each coauthor should understand the content of the publication
well enough to be able to take responsibility for all of it; otherwise,
the publication should clearly indicate the parts of which each coauthor
has responsibility. If a potential coauthor has doubts concerning the
correctness of the content or conclusions of a publication, and if these
doubts cannot be dispelled by consultation with the other coauthors, the
individual should decline co-authorship.
For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Other policies may also be referenced, especially the following:
AD47 - General
Standards of Professional Ethics.
Effective Date: January 7, 2013
Date Approved: September 14, 2012
Date Published: January 7, 2013
(Editorial changes- November 19, 2015)
Most Recent Changes:
- November 19, 2015 - Editorial changes. Title changes FROM "Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School" TO "Vice President for Research."
Revision History (and effective dates):
- December 20, 2013 - Editorial change in CROSS REFERENCES section. RA10, Addressing Allegations of Research Misconduct, has been removed. Revisions to RA10 make it no longer applicable to this particular IP policy as a cross reference.
- October 25, 2013 - Editorial changes. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.
- January 7, 2013- Policy moved from the Research Administration (RA13) section to the new Intellectual Property section (IP02). Same name and verbiage was retained.
- February 25, 2010 - Minor editorial changes made throughout the policy.
- May 23, 2007 - Revisions
to Guideline #2, to clarify publishing particulars involving theses
for advanced degrees.
- February 20, 1998 - Relocated and renumbered Policy RA13 from AD48,
and updated RA10 location.