Research institution X published an annual report in the field of social sciences, and included the names of researchers A and B on the cover. Working in the same research institution, researcher C considered that the expertise of his research group, which studied the same topic, had been overlooked because they were not mentioned as authors of the report. Consequently, A would thus have been guilty of disregard for the responsible conduct of research by denigrating the role of other researchers and by referring inadequately to earlier research results of C’s research group.
In a response to the allegation, A explained that the cover of the publication contained, in line with X’s prevailing practice, the names of persons who would provide further information on the topic. X carried out a preliminary inquiry into the matter, according to which no RCR violation had taken place.
According to both the RCR guidelines and TENK’s recommendations on authorship, it is necessary for the participants to agree in advance whose names will be included in the list of authors of the research publication, and how other types of authorship will be recorded in the publication. Unless otherwise specified, in TENK’s view, the authors of publications are presumed to be those whose names are marked on the front cover of the publication.
According to TENK, in this case, it remained unclear whether A and B were originally thought to act as authors of the disputed report, as editors, or merely as providers of additional information. However, criteria for disregard for the responsible conduct of research were not met, as in addition to this, no gross negligence or similar occurred in the preparation of the report. In addition, X had corrected its publication practices to comply with TENK’s guidelines immediately after C had filed the notification of an alleged RCR violation.