10 Questions to Ask Your Professor About Co-Authorship in Your First Meeting

By Siqi Tu, Jessica Murray, Guilherme Arinelli

  1. What are the norms of your field and do you agree or disagree with those norms? 

    1. Some advisors consider it standard practice for advisors to be co-authors of their advisees’ works based on their own experience in their graduate programs.

    2. https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/C…

  2. Where is the line between the requirements of the dissertation and the work done for authorship of a journal submission or other manuscript?

    1. Students are expected to do a certain amount of work to fulfill their degree requirements, but the overlap with that work and the work of producing scholarly publications is not always clear.

    2. Is providing critical feedback enough of a contribution for advisors to be listed as co-authors?

  3. Do you agree on where you want to submit your article or manuscript? 

    1. According to APA ethical guidelines, students should always have first authorship of work that comes from their dissertation except in circumstances where the student doesn’t want to pursue a publication. Is choosing a journal up to the student, too? 

  4. What are the expectations of each author and what is the authorship order? 

    1. Use a checklist to help determine responsibilities and order of authorship (ex. Authorship Determination Scorecard)

  5. What’s the protocol for adding other authors’ names in the late stages of a project? If an outside expert or reader is asked to join the project after a co-authorship agreement is made and most of the work is done, how will you assess their contributions? 

  6. How do you decide the order of authorship for non-dissertation research?

    1. The hierarchy of the advisor-advisee relationship will come into play in this process. Are advisors by default the first author of non-dissertation papers if they had a hand in collecting data, but not the conceptualization or writing of the paper? 

  7. Does funding for projects determine co-authorship or order of authorship? 

    1. In many fields, a large NSF, NEH, or other grant may produce multiple publications. 

    2. Discuss the expectations of the professor (or other contributors to the grant) to be listed as a co-author, and in what order. 

  8. Is there a possibility of equal co-authorship? 

    1. In cases where multiple authors share the workload evenly, it can be hard to communicate to outside readers that relationship, or to determine the authorship order (alphabetical or otherwise) in a way that’s fair. 

    2. It may be useful to discuss “tie-breaking” in order to determine the order of authorship by using a worksheet (ex. Authorship “Tie-breaker” Scorecard)

  9. What’s the timeline for the project? How often will you meet or communicate to stay on track?

    1. Add to your calendar all deadlines and the project steps and set meeting dates at the start of the project.

  10. What are your working styles and what is the best way to collaborate with each other? 

    1. In addition to setting a timeline and deciding on responsibilities, it may be useful to know if people work best when they have adequate time to read and reflect, or can work effectively under the pressure of a deadline. Know what tools they want to use, and decide on a process for collaboration. 

    2. Knowing each person’s personal style of working and co-writing can be helpful in diffusing any potential tensions before they come up. 

Other resources:

  1. 2017 Taylor & Francis Group. 2017. “Co-authorship in the Humanities and Social Sciences: A global view.”