Graduate Student Handbook: Authorship Policy

The department has considered the question of the authorship of papers arising from joint research done in the Department and recommends the following guidelines.

Joint Authorship

The authorship of a paper should accurately reflect the intellectual contributions of each individual. These include the origin of the ideas, the design of the study, the collection and interpretation of the data, the preparation and submission of the manuscript, and the completion of all revisions and editorial requirements. All else being equal, the first author should be the individual who has written the paper and guided it through the editorial process.

A research assistant who is hired to conduct a study is not normally included as an author. If his or her contributions exceed the job requirements, this should be acknowledged in a footnote. Financial support for the project should be acknowledged in a footnote.

Thesis Research

The production of a thesis involves an interaction between a student and a supervisor and the authorship of any resulting publications should reflect the contributions of each. Supervision is part of the teaching duties for university staff and does not necessarily warrant authorship. However, if the supervisor has contributed to the research, he or she should be included so that others are not misled about the student's capabilities for independent research.

In general:

The student should be the sole author if the thought and work are the student's and the supervisor has provided no more than general guidance and encouragement during data collection and writing. The contributions of the supervisor should be acknowledged in a footnote.

The supervisor should be included as a junior author if he or she has contributed to the planning and design of the research and the student has written the paper with no more than usual guidance from the supervisor.

The supervisor should be included as senior author if he or she initiates the research, determined the course of data collection, and wrote the resulting paper.

The interaction between the student and the supervisor is complex and serves many purposes. The student is often unaware of the stimulation and guidance provided by the supervisor; indeed, a good supervisor may foster a sense of independence while maintaining close, though indirect, control.

Authorship should be determined by mutual agreement prior to the completion of the project if possible. If disagreements arise, the Head of the Department or the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies should be asked to mediate.

The student has a responsibility to provide broad public access by publishing the results of the thesis in an appropriate journal. If s/he chooses not to then the supervisor should be given the opportunity to prepare & publish the manuscript.

Access to Data

All students should be aware that the publication of scientific results entails a responsibility to provide other researchers with access to the raw data. The fifth edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association states:

“To permit interested readers to verify the statistical analysis, an author should retain the raw data after publication of the research. Authors of manuscripts accepted for publication in APA journals are required to have available their raw data throughout the editorial review process and for at least 5 years after the date of publication.” This should also be observed with all theses as well as scientific papers. Whenever possible, the above information should be included as an appendix to the theses. In all cases, the supervisor should be regarded as an “interested reader” and should have access to the results.


Giovanna Crocco
Graduate Program Administrator

Department of Psychology, 62 Arch Street
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6