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JAIC’s Session: Scholarly Writing for Conservation

JAIC held a workshop on scholarly writing as part of the re-vamped virtual 2020 AIC Annual Meeting programming.  The June 23 workshop registration was free; for those who were not able to attend live, a recording is available at: learning.culturalheritage.org/p/scholarly-writing (you must create an account or log in to watch the recorded session).

The session covered a variety of writing and publication related topics, including the aims and scope of JAIC and how to prepare and format an article. Other topics included writing style, the mechanics of writing, and how to publish an article with impact. There was also a brief presentation on how to publish your first book.

One part of the session also considered an important issue in scholarly writing, “The Ethics of Authorship, Acknowledgements, and Credit,” presented by Suzanne Davis, AIC’s Vice President, and Cory Rogge, Chair Emerita of RATS. The impetus for this presentation was to provide best practice guidelines for determining when authorship is warranted and should be given.

Authors, whether of papers, posters or oral presentations, have four main responsibilities:

  1. Scholarship – an author should make substantial, direct, intellectual contribution to the work. This could include the conception, design, analysis and/or interpretation of data.

Anyone who meets qualification 1 should have the opportunity to participate in actions 2-4.  However, these later criteria should not be used as a tool to disqualify individuals from being an author.

  1. Authorship – all authors should play a role in the drafting and/or revision of a manuscript.
  2. Review and Approval – all authors must review and approve the entire manuscript prior to submission; all authors must approve revisions to a manuscript, prior to resubmission.
  3. Responsibility – all authors are held responsible for the integrity and accuracy of the work.

There are two common types of mistakes people make:

  • Ghost authorship, when someone who has met the criteria for inclusion as an author is excluded. An example of ghost authorship is when a project relies upon scientific data and analysis of that data, but the scientist is not included as an author. Essentially, this is stealing someone’s work. Unfortunately, ghost authorship is a very common occurrence in AIC posters and talks. Most scientists’ performance reviews and career trajectories depend on publications and lack of appropriate credit has a direct, deleterious effect on their careers.
  • Gift authorship, when a person is added to the author list but does not meet the criteria. Gift authorship includes the addition of a prominent individual as an author in hopes of improving chances of a submission’s acceptance, even when the individual has not met the authorship criteria. It could also include the gift of authorship to someone who has performed routine technical or analytical services, helped edit a manuscript, or who provided equipment or supplies.

People who don’t meet the criteria for authorship should be acknowledged. These individuals might include technicians who acquired data, a lab head or key administrator who obtained funding, or a colleague who helped with the work in a tangential but valuable way, such as providing a key material or sample, or reviewing, or editing the manuscript.

The line between authorship and acknowledgement is indistinct and different people may have different opinions on what constitutes a substantial contribution to the project in question. Clear communication is a necessity and will help clarify roles and responsibilities surrounding authorship:

  • Be explicit about roles, goals, outcomes, and expected timelines with everyone involved.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Think carefully about when someone is working with you as a collaborator and is contributing substantively to shaping your project and interpreting results, and when they’re not.
  • If you don’t have the expertise to do the work yourself, you most likely should not be the sole author.

What if your work has been plagiarized, used without appropriate credit, or submitted under your name without your review?

  • First of all, know that you have the right to speak up.
  • The best thing to do is to reach out to the Editor in Chief of the journal in question.
  • If the publication is part of a professional meeting, you can also contact pre- or post-print editors, meeting organizers, or other individuals who are crucial in putting together a professional session or publication.
  • If you personally know one of the associate editors and you feel more comfortable raising the issue with them, do so.

—Cory Rogge, crogge@mfah.org, and Suzanne Davis, davissl@umich.edu

Read JAIC Online

All articles published in JAIC are available online instantly. To read articles and book reviews, log in AIC’s website, then visit http://www.culturalheritage.org/publications/journal- (jaic)/member-access, and click on ACCESS. You will then have full access to HTML and PDF versions of all JAIC articles.

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