Project manager wanted co-authorship

Two Norwegian junior researchers were approached by their project manager who wanted co-authorship to their publication. The researchers did not consider the project manager‘s contribution to be substantial. The National Committees for Research Ethics agree with the researchers and are critical to how the university has dealt with the situation.
The conflict has its background in a cross-disciplinary project and the different practices in the humanities and the natural sciences. Within the natural sciences there is a tradition of including supervisors, project managers and heads of institutions as co-authors, whereas this is not usual in the humanities.

The National Committees for Research Ethics refer to the Vancouver requirements for authorship and say that the contribution to the publication must be substantial in order for co-authors to be included: "In order for a co-author to be included, the contribution must be substantial and must be related to the project in question. The author must have participated in the entire process through critical reflection," says Knut Ruyter, head of the secretariat of the National Committee for Medical Research Ethics, NEM. He also recommends the parties to make agreements for the conditions of the publication: "The agreements should establish an understanding of which articles the parties will co-write, and which articles will be written individually or in smaller groups," Ruyter says.

In our case the junior researchers do not agree that the project manager meets the requirements of co-authorship. The university where the project took place agrees with the project manager and thinks the Vancouver requirements are too vague to be applied in this case. "This is problematic because the university supports the established practice. We disagree that the requirements are vague. Being project manager alone is not enough to qualify you as a co-author," Ruyter underlines.
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