25 Co-authorship

Researchers must observe good publication practice, respect the contributions of other researchers, and observe recognised standards of authorship and cooperation.

Academic publishing is critical for ensuring that research is open and accountable. At the same time, publishing raises different ethical challenges and dilemmas. The research community is characterised by strong competition and great pressure to publish, which often puts pressure on recognised norms of research ethics. For example, the norm of originality may easily conflict with the norm of humility, and differences in authority and power may easily come into conflict with integrity and impartiality. Co-authorship is also linked to the distribution of responsibilities among different contributors.

In principle, four criteria define rightful authorship. They must all be met, as stated in the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE):

  1. The researcher must have made a substantial contribution to the conception and design or the data acquisition or the data analysis and interpretation; and
  2. the researcher must have contributed to drafting the manuscript or critical revision of the intellectual content of the publication; and
  3. the researcher must have approved the final version before publication; and
  4. the researcher must be able to accept responsibility for and be accountable for the work as a whole (albeit not necessarily all technical details) unless otherwise specified. [31]

It is common practice in the humanities and social sciences to require that co-authors have actually helped write and complete the manuscript. Only those who have actually contributed to the analysis and writing of a scientific work may be credited as co-authors. In other words, it is not enough to have contributed to the intellectual work with the article in a broad sense, for example a combination of data acquisition, critical revision and approval of the end product. Other contributors must be credited or thanked in footnotes or a closing note (Acknowledgements).

All forms of honorary authorship are unacceptable. Authorship must be limited to persons who have provided significant intellectual input to the research. General guidance, provision of funding or data acquisition do not in themselves qualify for co-authorship.

An agreement must be made as early as possible in the research process, not least in large and interdisciplinary research projects, as to who will be listed as the co-authors of a publication, and how responsibilities and tasks are to be distributed among the authors.

26 Good citation practice

All researchers and students are obliged to follow good citation practice. This is a prerequisite for critical examination and important for enabling further research.

Researchers and students are under an obligation to provide accurate references to the literature they use, whether this is primary or secondary literature. This must be accounted for explicitly, also when re-using text from one's own publications (so-called «duplication» or more misleadingly referred to as «self-plagiarism») in the form of proper citation, for example in a preface or in footnotes. When researchers and students obtain information from sources outside their research – such as public documents or the internet – they must provide accurate references that make it possible to trace the information back to the source. References should usually specify chapters or pages, so that other persons can check the quotes and references. This enables critical examination of assertions and arguments, including of how the sources are used.

Both scientific disciplines and research institutions are responsible for establishing and communicating rules for good citation practice, as well as for creating understanding of these norms, ensuring compliance, and reacting to misconduct. Each researcher or student must conduct their research with integrity, and handle their sources honestly. Supervisors have a special responsibility for following up students' knowledge of and attitudes towards research ethics, so that they may exercise good citation practice in future work.[32]

27 Plagiarism

Plagiarism is unacceptable and constitutes a serious breach of recognised norms of research ethics.

A plagiarist undermines not only his or her own reputation as a researcher, but also the credibility of the research. Both researchers and research institutions are responsible for preventing plagiarism.

Plagiarism in research ethics is taking something from someone else and presenting it as one's own without correctly citing their sources. Plagiarism violates the duty of truthfulness in science, and the requirement of originality, humility and collegiality. Researchers who build on the work of others must cite their sources in accordance with good practice.

The most obvious type of plagiarism is pure duplication. Plagiarism can nonetheless take other forms, for example the use of ideas, hypotheses, concepts, theories, interpretations, designs, illustrations, results etc. Citing another work early in one's own text and then making extensive further use of it without subsequent citation may also be plagiarism.

It is important to distinguish between direct quotes and paraphrasing in footnotes and endnotes as well as in the text. Paraphrasing must not be so close to the original text that it in reality constitutes a quote. If several paraphrases are connected, the entire interpretation and argumentation may be based on the work of others. If so, this may also constitute plagiarism.

28 Scientific integrity

Both researchers and research institutions must promote norms for good scientific practice.

Scientific integrity is about maintaining and complying with good scientific practice.

Misconduct is serious breach of good scientific practice associated with the collective commitment to the pursuit for truth. Researchers have an obligation to truthfulness, and scientific misconduct implies misleading others through lying, concealment or distortion. The most serious examples of misconduct are fabrication and falsification of data and plagiarism.[33] The norm of scientific integrity applies in full to all types of research and in every stage of the research process.

Institutions are required to have routines that promote integrity and prevent misconduct. Institutions must also have procedures for handling suspicions and accusations of scientific misconduct.

Universities, university colleges and other educational institutions have a special responsibility to ensure that students and others receive training in research ethics and scientific integrity. This means that norms for good citation practice and good scientific practice must be communicated in teaching and supervision throughout students' academic careers, and that established researchers should serve as good role models in their teaching and research.

29 Data sharing

Research material should be made available to other researchers for secondary analysis and further use.

Sharing of research data is often a prerequisite for building up knowledge, comparing results and critically testing the work of others. Improved openness and quality assurance can be achieved by sharing data.[34] At the same time, data sharing gives rise to ethical challenges relating to privacy and confidentiality. Therefore, the norm of transparency and data-sharing, particularly in large-scale registry research, should be balanced against other considerations and requirements of research ethics.

Generally, those responsible for collecting material have the priority right to use it in analyses and in publications. Data acquired with the aid of public funding must be made publicly available after a short period.

30 Impartiality

Both researchers and research institutions are obliged to report and consider possible conflicts of interest and of roles.

All researchers are obliged to respect the requirements regarding their own impartiality and that of others. Partiality can make research less reliable and independent, for example by leading to biased publication or selective reporting. Researchers may not take part in processes that involve approving, funding or judging their own research or the consequences of that research. Nor may researchers take part in evaluating measures that they have been involved in developing or implementing, or which are the result of their own research.

Impartiality requirements are the responsibility not only of researchers, but also of research institutions. Research institutions should as a matter of routine raise the question of impartiality and potential conflicts of interests in matters where this is relevant. Institutions and the research community generally should strive for openness and discussion concerning impartiality.

Ethical considerations often have a wider reach than purely legal rules and impartiality requirements [habilitet]. [35] Conflicting interests can detract from the quality of research, also indirectly, when persons who are parties or stakeholders state their view without taking part in the research themselves. In other cases, it is not only the credibility of the research that is relevant, but also the requirement that the research should be objective. If it is reasonable to raise doubt about a researcher's impartiality, or if a researcher has a possible conflict of interests, this may undermine confidence in the research, both in the academic community and among the public generally.

31 Relations with colleagues

Research should be conducted in compliance with norms of research ethics, for example with regard to openness, fairness and (self-criticism, thereby contributing to research cultures that promote good research.

Research institutions must create conditions for research cultures that is conducive to good research. They must strive to maintain a culture based on constructive discourse and management of collegial disagreement. They should encourage well-balanced recruitment of researchers. Criticism must not be silenced by referring to obligations of loyalty or requirements of obedience. Fairness must be maintained, such as the requirement to avoid tendentious renderings of the work of researchers whose views differ from one's own. Researchers must ensure through exchange of information and constructive criticism that their group's research is as good as possible. Research communities must maintain high methodological standards and encourage fair debate on the applications and limitations of various methods and analytical techniques.

Good research cultures are characterised by researchers who read each other's work and give one another positive and negative criticism. It is a breach of ethical norms if researchers keep serious criticism of existing research to themselves, and do not present it in relevant circles to ensure that problematics are considered from all angles. This is consistent with the scientific norm of systematic and organised scepticism. Relevant circles may extend to a broader public than the specialist community.

Most disciplines are characterised by competing schools of thought and disagreement on fundamental questions of scientific theory. Those responsible for the academic assessment of the work of others must therefore be willing to seriously consider arguments and ways of thinking that are recognised in other research traditions than their own. Academic assessments must be characterised by professional carefulness, fairness and openness. Researchers frequently participate in evaluations for academic posts. They evaluate master's and doctoral theses, project applications, journal articles and similar. In such contexts, the assessor must review their own impartiality and work professionally and objectively.

32 The student-supervisor relationship

Supervisors are obliged to act in the students' best interests and not to take advantage of their dependence. This applies to academic results and personal matters.

Supervisors must be conscious of the asymmetry of the supervisory situation, and not take advantage of their academic authority or use their authority in a manner liable to cause the student offence. Supervisors must not take advantage of students' dependence.

If a supervisor wishes to use in his or her own research material from work that the student has not yet completed, the supervisor and the student must make an agreement to this effect. If the student has collected the material personally, it should only be used after the student is finished with the material, normally after taking the examination. The institution should draw up a standard agreement for this situation. Supervisors must employ good citation practice when using a student's material and work. Supervisors must also take note of how others use students' work before it is completed, and if relevant how the supervisor's contribution should be indicated. Similarly, students should employ good citation practice in relation to their supervisors.

In a supervisory situation, double relationships may arise, leading to compromised impartiality when the candidate's work is to be assessed. The supervisor's integrity must be protected as well as the candidate's. It must not be possible for anyone to cast doubt as to where the line goes between private and professional matters, nor as to a supervisor's impartiality. If the relationship between supervisor and candidate becomes overly close, the general rule is that the supervisor should withdraw from the position.

33 Responsibilities of supervisors and project managers

Supervisors and project managers must assume responsibility for the research ethics problems faced by students or project team members.

Supervisors and project managers are also responsible for taking account of participants and others who are affected by the projects of students and project team members. They must assume responsibility for dealing with the problems that may arise for those conducting the project, especially if conducting the research become particularly stressful or problematic for them. Supervisors and project managers also have a shared responsibility for disseminating the results of projects. This responsibility also involves dealing with challenges presented by research ethics.


[31] www.icmje.org/recommendations/

[32] «God skikk. Om bruk av litteratur og kilder i allmenne, historiske framstillinger» [Good practice. About the use of literature and sources in general historical accounts], report commissioned by the Norwegian Publishers' Association, the Norwegian Historical Association and the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association, Oslo 2006.

[33] Section 5 of the Research Ethics Act.

[34] The Research Council of Norway, Open Access to Research Data, Policy for Open Access, Oslo 2014.

[35] Section 6 of the Public Administration Act.