The australian code for the responsible conduct of
The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of
Dr Merilyn Childs
Learning Teaching & Curriculum
University of Wollongong
As academics develop their careers,
they are likely to confront issues
associated with academic integrity as
it relates to publishing & attributing
authorship. I know I did.
This presentation aims to locate these
issues within a governance framework
in the Australian context: The
Australian Code for the Responsible
Conduct of Research.
All images used in this presentation are by the amazing: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/
When the term “academic integrity” is used, more often
than not it is used to refer to students . But “academic
integrity” also applies to the work of academics. This
includes behaviour related to publishing.
The assignment of authorship is not a
personal, local matter. It is a serious
matter concerning academic integrity,
and is governed by The Australian Code
for the Responsible Conduct of
Research, Section 5: Authorship.
The Code states that attribution of authorship
depends to some extent on the discipline, but in
all cases authorship must be based on
substantial contributions in a combination of:
• conception and design of the project
• analysis and interpretation of research data
• drafting significant parts of the work or
critically revising it so as to contribute to the
It is critical to note that “the right
to authorship is not tied to
position or profession and does
not depend on whether the
contribution was paid for or
voluntary. It is not enough to have
provided materials or
routine technical support, or to
have made the measurements on
which the publication is
based. Substantial intellectual
involvement is required”.
Those who make a contribution have a right to attribution.
It’s the responsibility of collaborating researchers to
“agree on authorship of a publication at an early stage
in the research project and should
review their decisions periodically.”
Authorship: Section 5.3.
Authorship should not be offered to those who
do not meet the requirements set out
by the Code. Authorship Section 5.5 Do not
allow unacceptable inclusions of authorship
For example, none of the following contributions, in and
of themselves, justifies including a person as an author:
• being head of department, holding other positions of
authority, or personal friendship with the authors
• providing a technical contribution but no other
intellectual input to the project or publication
• providing routine assistance in some aspects of the
project, the acquisition of funding or general
supervision of the research team
• providing data that has already been published or
materials obtained from third parties, but with no
other intellectual input.
Authorship Section 5.5 Do not allow unacceptable
inclusions of authorship
Research managers/directors, professors
(who may be indirectly involved), grant
winners or those in power must meet the
standard outlined by the Code to be
included as co-authors. They do not have
a right to honorary authorship (Moffatt
2011) or attribution if they do not meet
See if your institution
has a Statement of
Authorship based on the
Invent one if it doesn’t.
Conflict about attribution should be anticipated as “disagreements often
happen” (Dance, 2012). Write into your research and ethics applications that
the Code will be adhered to, including alignment with Section 5 Authorship.
Do not assume that names on a research grant will be the
same as names on a publication!
It may seem tempting to reward a senior
academic who lent their name to a research
grant with a publication or two. This is a breach
of the Code if they are attributed without
meeting the standard.
Rule of thumb? “ Authorship should be earned
rather than offered” (Drenth 1998 in Hundley et
al 2013, p.98). The “consequences of…gift
authorship can be serious” (Street et al 2010,
p.1458). Indeed, it is a form of academic
There are other important aspects of the
Code, Section 5 Authorship:
responsibilities for institutions (5.1) and
responsibilities for researchers (5.2-5.8).
Academics have a responsibility to:
• Earn authorship
• Not accept honorary or ‘gift’ authorship for any reason
• Protect research and researchers from potential breaches
of the Code
• Value academic integrity
• Advocate for institutional alignment with the Code
Institutions could also:
• Ensure widespread understanding of the Code
• Initiate a “red flags” approach to ERA and HERDC reporting
to identify possible breaches of the Code
• Ensure a safe workplace for early and middle career researchers
in support of the Code
• Routinely report efforts to align with the Code
Dance, A. (2012). Authorship: Who’s on first? Nature, 489. pp. 591-593.
Hundley, V., van Teijlingen., & Simkhada P. (2013). Academic authorship:
who, why and in what order? Guest editorial, Health Renaissance,
Moffatt, B. (2011). Responsible authorship: why researchers must forgo
honorary authorship. Accountability in Research: Polices and Quality
Assurance, 18(2), pp. 76-90.
Street, J.M., Rogers, W.A., Israel, M., & Braunack-Mayer. (2010). Credit
where credit is due? Regulation, research integrity and the attribution
of authorship in the health sciences”, Social Sciences and Medicine,
Acknowledgment: All images used in this presentation were designed by the amazing