Response to Bruce A. Thyer's comments on social work authorship.

Author:Bowen, Natasha K.

I appreciate Dr. Thyer's (2013) consideration of the authorship guidelines presented in my editorial, "Social Work Authorship" (Bowen, 2013). Although agreeing with the basic premise that inconsistent authorship assignment practices are problematic, Dr. Thyer lists a number of concerns about my proposal. Although I acknowledge in the editorial that the "devil is in the details" of authorship proposals, the details Dr. Thyer considers most bedeviling do not strike me as major concerns. For example, he suggests that other disciplines will quickly create their own guidelines in response to the emergence of social work guidelines, making it confusing for coauthors from different disciplines to choose which guidelines to follow. First, it seems unlikely to me that any other discipline would hurry to create authorship guidelines just because social work did so. Second, my suggestions for social work journal editors imply that authorship guidelines should be promoted by .journals themselves (among others). If social workers came to agreement on a set of guidelines to follow, the guidelines associated with all social work journals would be the same. Submissions to .journals representing other disciplines that adhere to other standards would logically comply with those other standards; no confusion necessary.

Dr. Thyer also suggests that social work authorship standards might conflict with those in effect for other .journals. However, important foundations of my proposal were a major existing interdisciplinary set of authorship guidelines and existing areas of consensus in ethical statements of multiple disciplines. My proposed standards are not likely, therefore, to conflict with the standards of other disciplines. I did not encounter any professional or .journal authorship standards, for example, that invited submissions with guest, ghost, or gift authors. My guidelines simply spell out, in more detail, terms that are used in many existing authorship standards. Rather than creating conflict or confusion, the guidelines are likely to dispel ambiguity and opacity. Although I certainly lack Dr. Thyer's experience as an editor, it is difficult for me to believe that such guidelines would discourage distinguished non-social work researchers from publishing in our journals. (Perhaps those who would be deterred by rules against guest and gift...

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