another zoology authorship question

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Tue Mar 7 09:52:20 CST 2006

I think it is reasonable for scientist A to request co-authorship simply
on the grounds that he did the field work.  The fact that he provided
financial compensation to scientist B is irrelevant.  Think of it this
way, suppose scientists A and B were listed as PIs on a grant in which the
funds are provided to A and B receives funding as a subcontract.  If A
conducted all the fieldwork and B was involved for his expertise to
identify new taxa, then would you wonder about whether or not A should
(could) be listed as co-author?

This and other scenarios represent situations in which there are varying
levels of contribution by different individuals.  Whether or not each
individual has a claim on authorship is largely a function of each
individual's personal views and any understanding that should be worked
out ahead of time.  I would hesitate to establish a blanket rule because
even minor contributions may be viewed as important and deserving of
co-authorship status.  In your scenario, A might be justified in making
that claim that B is a hired consultant and therefore deserves no status
as co-author - B reports that specimen X represents a new taxon and A is
now free to describe it.


Dick J

Alan Harvey wrote:

> Greetings,
> In my experience, the right to publish descriptions of any new species
> is one of the perks, so to speak, for the taxonomist who identifies
> specimens, otherwise uncompensated, for others. Whether the collector
> is an author of the species is more or less at the discretion of the
> taxonomist, and I've seen it go both ways, depending on the individual
> taxonomist and on the relative expertise of the collector.
> Here's a situation that differs from the above. Scientist A collects a
> broad taxonomic array of specimens as part of a grant-funded project.
> He identifies most specimens himself, but sends some obscure material
> to experts for identification. One expert (Scientist B), in a country
> with somewhere between a struggling and a collapsing economic
> infrastructure, requests for and receives substantial financial
> assistance from Scientist A. He then determines that some of the
> material represents a new species.
> So, unlike the typical collector-expert scenario, Scientist A provided
> considerable financial support to Scientist B, and is feeling some
> pressure from the granting agency regarding productivity. Scientist A
> wants to know if it is appropriate to request a co-authorship for the
> new species on these grounds, and I frankly don't know what to say. It
> seems reasonable to me, but then again I've never had a collector
> request co-authorship with me (I usually name the species after the
> collector, now that I think about it).
> What say other taxonomists out there?
> Cheers,
> Alan
> Alan W. Harvey
> Associate Professor
> Department of Biology - 8042
> Georgia Southern University
> Statesboro, GA 30460
> phone (912) 681-5784
> fax (912) 681-0845

Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at
Notre Dame, IN 46556    |

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