Policy Steward:  Office of the Vice President for Research


  • Purpose
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  • Cross References


    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.

    1. 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 co-authorship.

    2. 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.

    3. 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:

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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