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Caldwell Presents on Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship

This week, the Office of Research and Engagement was proud to host Rachel Caldwell, Associate Professor and Scholarly Communication & Publishing Librarian, for a lecture on Publication Practices & Responsible Authorship as part of the Responsible Conduct of Research Lunch and Learn series. The series boasts a comprehensive program of topic areas intended to educate our campus community about the importance of ethical research practices and relevant compliance topics.

This session reviewed professional norms and ethical practices pertaining to the publication and dissemination of scientific research. Common misconceptions and best practices specific to each stage of the publication process were discussed.

For example, Caldwell explained the difference between authorship and acknowledgement. Authorship credit should be limited to those individuals who provided significant intellectual contributions to the work, including making substantial contributions to the study’s concept and design, drafting and/or critically revising the content, approving the manuscript for publication, and agreeing to be accountable for all aspects of the manuscript. Individuals whose contributions were helpful but fall short of the criterion for authorship should still be acknowledged. Journals often require a section at the end of a manuscript detailing the specific contributions of each author to ensure appropriate designations.

The presentation also walked participants through the process of submitting a manuscript for review, beginning with evaluating potential publishers. Rather than merely considering the impact factor as a primary metric of a journal’s quality, journals known for good publishing practices should be considered highly when deciding where to submit. Authors should ensure that a journal/publisher is credible and reputable prior to submission or agreeing to a peer review. Authors should not submit the same manuscript to multiple journals at once. Many publications require signed agreements from submitting authors guaranteeing them first rights to publish a manuscript upon acceptance. If data presented in a piece submitted for publication has already been published elsewhere, proper citations and clear descriptions of what is new in the work must be included in the submission. Graduate theses and dissertations must be submitted to the University TRACE system for degree completion, but if those students wish to publish their work, they must request an embargo so that their work is not made publicly available until a certain date in order to comply with journals’ copyright requirements and should communicate with relevant journal editors.

Many scholarly authors are unaware that they can, in fact, negotiate copyright. Publishers typically maintain multiple versions of their copyright agreements in order to accommodate special circumstances. If an author maintains copyright to his or her own manuscript, permission still may be required in order to reuse tables and figures that have been altered or designed by the original publishing organization. Authors who want their manuscripts to be made publicly available and to retain the right to reuse the material should consider reputable open access journals and clarify their copyright restrictions ahead of time.

Some journals may require additional work from authors subsequent to publication, such as making supplementary materials or raw data available online. Authors who are required to submit their work to a public access repository (i.e. PubMed Central for those receiving federal funding) should not upload the publisher’s version of the manuscript, but the last document submitted for review prior to acceptance.

The UT Libraries provide publishing support for University of Tennessee, Knoxville researchers, including information on publishing agreements. Visit their website for details. Other resources include:

The Office of Research and Engagement thanks Samantha Ehrlich, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, who attended the lecture and served as rapporteur for the topic.

Register online for the remaining sessions of the RCR Lunch and Learn Series.

For further information on training at the Office of Research and Engagement and the RCR program, contact Jessie Holder Tourtellotte at jholde11@utk.edu.