1. Lindo, Jascinth
  2. LePage, Carolyn
  3. Beason, Ferrona

Article Content

Management of unpublished work from student theses can present a challenge for faculty (Foster & Ray, 2012). The incentives for publishing may not be as high for students as for persons in academia, and students may remain undesirous of investing the required time or energy required for navigating the scholarly peer review process. Given the critical importance of publishing research conducted on human subjects, this may present principal investigators/ PhD candidates with an ethical dilemma. The obvious professional recognition that faculty may experience from increased numbers of publications also figures into decisions about how to respond to unpublished student work.


Foster and Ray (2012, p. 216) described a scenario in which a graduate student submitted a manuscript based on work done for a successful dissertation that involved 80 hours of supervision by the major advisor. Among participants in their research project, 44% responded that the graduate student should not have offered coauthorship to the professor. The participants suggested that a dissertation should be "considered independent research." This reasoning makes it difficult to support the decision to attribute principal authorship of work done for dissertations to persons other than the postgraduate student.


The American Psychological Association (2010) states that, "Except under exceptional circumstances, a student is listed as principal author on any multiple-authored article that is based substantially on the student's doctoral dissertation." In addition, the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (2008) suggests students should not be required to relinquish their intellectual property rights as a condition of pursuing doctoral studies under a particular supervisor. The University of the West Indies Policy and Procedures on Research Ethics (University of the West Indies School for Graduate Studies and Research, 2011, p. 8) recommends that, "when a multi-authored article is based primarily on a student's research, the student should be granted priority prominence on the list of co-authors." The view that student work is owned by the student is supported by the Recognition for Authorship Research Policy at the Victoria University of Wellington (2010), which says that, "research students own the copyright in their thesis, dissertation or research paper." Special authorship considerations arise when graduate students are involved in longitudinal studies (American Psychological Association, 2010) and completes a program prior to the completion of the entire project and/ or the draft of multiple publications.


Conflicts regarding attribution of authorship can be significantly reduced if advisors engage students regarding authorship. Early initiation of conversations between student and faculty regarding attribution of authorship is recommended. It is advisable that faculty members work with graduate students on first drafts of papers from dissertations as part of added value to their training. This approach would significantly reduce the possibility of authorship conflicts. It may be best that universities proceed cautiously by endorsing and/or implementing policies stipulating that doctoral students be primary authors on papers generated from dissertations.




American Psychological Association. ( 2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from[Context Link]


Canadian Association for Graduate Studies. ( 2008). Guiding principles for graduate student supervision. Retrieved from[Context Link]


Foster R. D., Ray D. C. ( 2012). An ethical decision-making model to determine authorship credit in published faculty-student collaborations. Counseling and Values, 57, 214-228. doi:10.1002/j.2161-007X.2012.00018.x [Context Link]


University of the West Indies School for Graduate Studies and Research. ( 2011). The University of the West Indies policy and procedures on research ethics. Retrieved from[Context Link]


Victoria University of Wellington. ( 2010). Recognition of authorship policy. Retrieved from[Context Link]