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Case 70. Rights to Authorship


Oscar Martinez, a graduate student, was hired to code data and in doing his work he identified a code that was ambiguous, and without discussing the matter with Nick Manson, the project director, refined the code. Subsequently, Manson wrote a paper using the refined code and gave a copy to Martinez. On reading the paper and seeing that the variable whose measurement he refined was the central idea of the paper, Martinez informed the project director of his refinement and asked for authorship. Manson disagreed, saying that acknowledgment of the student's contribution in a footnote was sufficient recognition, since he brought in the basic ideas and analyzed the data.


  1. How much contribution and of what kind merits authorship? 
  2. Does Manson have the right the right to decide authorship credits? Does the student have a claim to authorship? Is his acknowledgment in a footnote sufficient for his contribution?
  3. Should the project director and student jointly seek and/or separately advice? If so, from whom? From faculty and graduate students who have published?

Reflect on the above questions and form your own answers before clicking the discussion key to review the commentary provided with this case.