As I understand it, in the engineering field, the person who has research money and/or a project that leads to the collection of data, is put on research papers that directly use that data. I guess the most common of this is for PHD students whose advisors funding or project is the reason they have data.

I am curious about when this ends in regards to collaboration. If one person gets a project and funding and collaborates with a different lab/department/professor/researcher and through this, gives a portion of the funding to that person or place, what is the convention for authorship? Does the PI of the project go on all papers that use the data, or only papers they directly do with their own staff/students?

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    Weird. I would expect direct use of someone's data to deserve a citation, not coauthorship.
    – JeffE
    Jul 14, 2014 at 13:11
  • sorry if the question is not that clear, but i am not talking about after publication of data. I am talking about during the data collection, and the publications that directly use that data. When there are more than one publication, such as, publication of methods for data collection and algorithms used for that data. It is not a matter of how long to wait, but the collarboration limits Jul 14, 2014 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


The German research foundation (DFG) has some guidelines on authorship for research publications (including an English translation towards the end) which put specific criteria for being named as an author. Among others, it says that those "who have made significant contributions to the conception of studies or experiments" should be listed as authors.

In my understanding, getting funding for a project requires describing the conception of the data collection in quite some detail, so anybody who contributed to that part of the proposal should be included as an author of the resulting publication. Importantly, the criterium is not having brought in the money, but having contributed (significantly) to the conception of the study.

The only exception to that rule would be if the paper under discussion does not "publish" the data, but "uses" it in some other way and can include a citation to the original publication of the data.

  • Could you be more specific as to where in that document those are listed? Because in your phrasing they seem to disagree with the Vancouver protocol, which has similar phrasing, but includes an "and", which means that the bit you picked out would not there be sufficient. Jul 15, 2014 at 11:31
  • @TobiasKildetoft This is in Recommendation 12: Scientific Journals (page 83). To locate it quickly from the electronic document, search for e.g. 'significant contributions'.
    – silvado
    Jul 15, 2014 at 12:39
  • @TobiasKildetoft The Vancouver protocol lists "conception and design", which might be meant as synonyms, the DFG just "conception" ("of studies or experiments"). There doesn't seem to be a significant difference in meaning here. Interestingly, the DFG mentions "generation of the data", which seems to lack in the Vancouver protocol.
    – silvado
    Jul 15, 2014 at 12:44
  • The Vancouver protocol also lists other things. And all of those must be met, not just one of them. Jul 15, 2014 at 13:27

If one person gets a project and funding and collaborates with a different lab/department/professor/researcher and through this, gives a portion of the funding to that person or place, what is the convention for authorship?

If you collaborate with someone, they usually get co-authorship on papers resulting from the collaboration. Not because money changed hands, but because they were involved in the work that the paper describes.

If two PIs on a funded proposal work independently on research described in the proposal, such that they are not collaborators, then they won't be author on one another's papers. Again, the reason they won't merit co-authorship is because they did not collaborate on the work.

For example, suppose I write a proposal together with a colleague to explore some problem domain both from a theoretical standpoint (his area of expertise) and through practical experimentation (mine). He develops the conception of the theoretical part, while I develop the experimental part. The proposal is funded. My colleague proceeds to develop a very nice theoretical framework, while I independently go ahead and do some experimental work. I didn't participate in his work and he didn't participate in mine. We are not going to be co-authors on one another's papers.

It's irrelevant whether money changed hands. It's also not relevant whether we are in the same lab/department/university or different ones.

  • But if those two researchers in your example publish one paper including both theoretical and experimental parts; they are assumed to be co-authors of a single paper.
    – enthu
    Jul 14, 2014 at 20:51
  • Also, if each of the authors forms even a single idea of another paper and participates in some discussions of the paper, he should be assumed as a co-author of the paper; and if they have no discussions on another paper, they have no co-authorship relations. (I mean, one of the papers may be two authors and another with single writer as no collaborations and discussions about that specific paper is made between authors). I think participation in a paper is important in co-authorship; not anything else.
    – enthu
    Jul 14, 2014 at 20:55
  • @Parsa yes, participation in the research described in a paper is grounds for co-authorship. Sharing funds, as the OP asks about, is not.
    – ff524
    Jul 14, 2014 at 20:58
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    @Parsa this question is about whether sharing funding with another group is (by convention) grounds for co-authorship on their papers. My answer is that it is not. This is not the place to discuss standards for co-authorship in general.
    – ff524
    Jul 14, 2014 at 21:04
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    @Parsa there are a lot of questions on authorship on this site, I suggest those as a reference.
    – ff524
    Jul 14, 2014 at 21:12

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