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Suppose I've done some research as part of a (small) group, and this research has been published as a paper with all group members listed as co-authors. Then I go to give a presentation on this research at a conference, but I prepare the presentation and the writeup for the conference proceedings mostly on my own. Is it normal to list all the co-authors of the original paper as authors of the conference proceedings? If not, is there a particular way I should credit them in the proceedings, e.g. a footnote, or in the acknowledgments section?

I know the obvious answer is probably going to be that I should ask my co-authors how to credit them, and I will do that, but what I would really like to know is the most common practice, if there is one. (My field is particle physics)

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The practice I'm most familiar with is that a coauthor is a coauthor is a coauthor. Anyone listed as a coauthor on the title page of the paper should be listed on the title slide of any talk about the paper, and explicitly acknowledged ("This is joint work with...") when the talk begins. Whether any of your coauthors helped you prepare your slides or the proceedings abstract is none of the audience's business.

But this attitude is clearly specific to my field, where papers only rarely have more than three authors. It might not scale so well in fields (like particle physics?) where a "small" group may have 100 members.

  • Ah, you make a good point ;-) In my case, I do phenomenology, not experimental particle physics, so small actually does mean small, like 3 people. – David Z Sep 28 '12 at 5:35
  • @JeffE +1 to you. Good point. – Noble P. Abraham Sep 28 '12 at 6:41
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I think the key distinction is whether the conference presentation and writeup are viewed as a presentation of new results or as an exposition of work published elsewhere.

When you are publishing a research paper, the criterion for coauthorship is making an important intellectual contribution to the research. Everyone in this category must be listed, regardless of their role in the actual writing, unless they specifically decline coauthorship.

On the other hand, there is no need to include these coauthors on further expositions: if you go on to write a survey or review article on this topic, then the authorship should reflect who actually worked on the article, rather than who did the original research. (The same way if you wrote an exposition of some of Einstein's work, that wouldn't make him a posthumous coauthor.) Of course, the exposition needs to give clear credit for the original research.

The border between these cases can get a little blurry. If something could be viewed as a research announcement (where experts would be learning of the work for the first time), then I'd say that puts it in the research category, rather than exposition, even if the primary publication appears elsewhere. The basic issue is whether you could cause confusion. If your writeup may be cited as a research contribution, then you should list your coauthors.

If you are in a field like CS, where conferences are a primary venue for announcing research results, then you definitely need to list your collaborators as coauthors on the presentation and writeup. In math, things are a little different: some conferences publish refereed research papers in their proceedings, but there are also other possibilities. Some places, like Oberwolfach, ask speakers to write up an account of their talk, but this is not considered a research publication at all. In a case like that, there's probably no need to have formal coauthors, as long as the text itself is perfectly clear about referring to the research publication and author list. (When collaborators of mine have written things like this, I've been happy not to be listed as a coauthor on the resulting document, since that way I don't have to worry about the writing.)

However, the most important rule is not to offend your collaborators. Leaving out someone who feels they should be included is worse than including someone you don't think is necessary, so it's always best to ask.

  • OP: "... published as a paper with all group members listed as co-authors"; your answer: "If you are in a field like CS, where conferences are a primary venue for announcing research results, then you definitely need to list your collaborators as coauthors on the presentation and writeup." - more precisely, in (some subfields of?) CS, the "writeup" that goes into the conference proceedings is the paper. – O. R. Mapper May 18 '15 at 21:30
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Most common practise, I think, is to add them as co-authors in the write-up for proceedings, while in the presentation, mention them in the acknowledgements slide at the end of presentation. The title slide may include your name alone and mentioning your group's name is a better practise. Some also highlight PI's name in the title slide of the presentation.

The proceedings write-up, probably will get expanded later and takes the form of a journal article. So giving credits to all those worked in the problem should be properly attributed.

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