I wish to publish a software platform that was developed for a research project. The usage-logic and user interface design were largely specified by the academic team, but the code was written by professional software engineers. Is there known precedence for this? (citations) And how would the community tend to handle attribution?

EDIT (due to request for more information): Software engineers did not make 'creative' contributions, in other words they received a brief and executed it. One could argue that they acted much like a physical research service provider, for instance technicians who install/manage research equipment in labs. The main confusion is that the publication directly concerns the software. The research for which it was built is reported in another paper.

What I was hoping for here was some reference to existing publications with a similar focus, to see guiding examples.

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    Thought experiment: substitute "professional software engineers" with "undergraduate students", and assume the same level of involvement of these students in the design and logic as your programmers. How would you handle attribution in that case? Is this case different? If so, how? Nov 5, 2015 at 12:10
  • Ever heard of Linux? :)
    – tonysdg
    Nov 5, 2015 at 17:02
  • I don't think you've given enough information for anyone to answer this question. Is the code and other work of the engineers part of the intellectual contribution of the paper?
    – ff524
    Nov 6, 2015 at 6:46
  • Designing the user interface is easier than actually implementing it. So, if designing the GUI is your main contribution you should not be an author either (if building the GUI is not sufficient to warrant co-authorship according to you).
    – Alexandros
    Nov 6, 2015 at 17:51
  • @Alexandros that is true, thankfully designing the GUI was not the only contribution the authors made ;) In case it was unclear, the engineers were paid for their work - they are not interested in academic credits, and would not do extra work to receive them. In this part of the world it is expected that authors should contribute also to writing the paper.
    – zenBen
    Nov 9, 2015 at 8:50

1 Answer 1


If the software engineers made a direct contribution to the research product, then the should be listed as authors on the paper.

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