CoE GameCult Recommendation for Authorship Attribution

CoE GameCult Authorship Attribution Workshop on 1st November 2021. Photo by Usva Friman.

To promote responsibility and transparency in our research practices, in 2021, the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies researchers have been discussing and developing a recommendation for authorship attribution to be adopted in the research activities within the CoE. This recommendation was approved in the CoE’s monthly meeting on 13th December 2021.

Executive summary

  • The CoE adopts the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (Tutkimuseettinen neuvottelukunta – TENK ) guidelines for PI initiated joint-authorship memorandums ( either at project level or in the planning of individual publications.
  • In addition to the authorship attribution making a transparent process for determining the order of authors, contributor statements are adopted to designate the responsibilities of the individual named authors in the research publication.
  • Based on the recommendations of ICMJE and TENK, the CoE offers opportunities for authorship to relevant individuals.


  1. The process of how authorship is determined and acknowledged is transparent to the researchers involved in a research project and contributions are accurately communicated to the scientific community.
  2. Acknowledge range of emergent forms of contribution. Understanding that what may count as authorship is constantly evolving.
  3. Support interdisciplinary collaboration. Acknowledging that authorship is attributed differently across disciplines and consequently transdisciplinary/interdisciplinary researchers are subjected to uneven forms of acknowledgement. 
  4. Enable visibility and recognition of PhD and early career researchers. Acknowledging the work of junior researchers in joint projects where attention and attribution may favor senior researchers in ways that diminish or ignore the contributions of junior researchers.
  5. Supporting the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). Cementing the issues related to author acknowledgement will prevent research outcomes that fall into the TENK category: “Disregard for the responsible conduct of research.”


1) The CoE adopts the TENK guidelines for PI initiated joint-authorship memorandums either at project level or in the planning of individual publications which creates jointly agreed upon protocols for authorship and contribution.

During the planning phase of the research, TENK (pp. 48–49) “recommends that the principal investigator or head of research group begins a discussion on the principles of authorship with the researchers in a research project and others involved in co-publications.” In light of recommendation 2 (below), this discussion should establish what counts as authorship and what counts as contribution in the context of the project. 

According to TENK’s RCR guidelines, principles concerning authorship should be agreed by “all parties within the research project or team” “before beginning research or recruiting researchers” (p. 50). However, they “must be agreed upon before the manuscript is submitted for publication” (p. 50).1

TENK recommends a written “memorandum” is created (pp. 58–59), along with providing guidelines of what should be included. Particularly, given that there are various norms for author order across disciplines, how this is decided should also be outlined in writing beforehand in the memorandum. However, the decision as to the authorship and the authorship order should be made transparently during the research process (p. 59).

Example memorandum documents are in pages 21–23 (or 62–64 in English)  of the TENK Authorship Guidelines (see reference list for link).

Following TENK, the CoE recommends following the International Committee of Medical Journals Editors (ICMJE) four criteria for defining authorship:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND

Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

2) Contributor statements in publications are adopted by CoE researchers to designate the responsibilities of the individuals named authors in the research publication.

TENK recommends a contributor statement in cases of multi-author, multi-discipline research projects “which describes the specific roles of authors in the production of the publication” (p. 49).2 CRediT – developed by CASRAI, a non-profit standardizing body of researchers and research institutions – provides a detailed taxonomy of contribution, outlining 14 potential roles which could be counted as contributing to research. These have been developed to acknowledge new and emergent forms of contribution to research. 

This involves acknowledging that authorship and contribution may not always be equivocal, which means that not all contributors will necessarily be named as authors on a publication, while they will still be included in a separate contributor statement in the publication. This is intended to clarify generic acknowledgements in a way that gives credit to individual contributors’ specific roles in the research publication. Discussing and agreeing on this difference is a crucial element of creating joint authorship memorandums (see recommendation 1, above).

Including authors in the contributor statement supports transparency and allows junior scholars and interdisciplinary researchers to pinpoint and discuss their role within larger research projects when applying for jobs, promotions, and grants. From a RCR perspective, requiring each named author to have a designated responsibility prevents the practices of “ghost authorship” and “gift authorship” (TENK pp. 50 & 54). 

Example Statement from Frontiers in Psychology:

Author 4: designed the study and wrote the paper; Authors 1 and 2: contributed to paper writing; Author 3: collected data, conducted analysis, and contributed in writing the paper.

3) Based on the recommendations of ICMJE and TENK the CoE offers opportunities for authorship to relevant individuals.

Following the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journals Editors (ICMJE) TENK also recommends: “all the individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the planning or design of the work or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of the data should be offered an opportunity to participate in the planning, evaluation and final approval of the manuscript and thus given an opportunity to be included in the list of authors” (p. 51).For those involved in the research process as active contributors there should be transparent pathways to being included in an authorship role, especially in the case of student, PhD and contract researchers.

Reference list

CReditT (contributor roles taxonomy):

ICMJE recommendation for defining the role of authors and contributors:

TENK Authorship Guidelines:

TENK RCR Guidelines:

Additional references

Brand, Amy., Allen, Liz., Altman, M., Hlava, Marjorie., and Scott, Jo. 2015. Beyond authorship: Attribution, contribution, collaboration, and credit. Learned Publishing 28(2), 151–155. doi:10.1087/20150211

Fong Eric A., and Wilhite, Allen W. 2017. Authorship and citation manipulation in academic research. PLoS ONE 12(12). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187394

Hesselmann, Felicitas., Schendzielorz, Cornelia., and Sorgatz, Nikita. 2021. Say my name, say my name: Academic authorship conventions between editorial policies and disciplinary practices. Research Evaluation [online first]. doi:10.1093/reseval/rvab003

Lapidow, Amy., and Scudder, Paige. 2019. Shared First Authorship. Journal of Medical Library Associations 107(4), 618–620. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2019.700


1The TENK RCR guidelines comment on authorship as follows: “Before beginning the research or recruiting the researchers, all parties within the research project or team (the employer, the principal investigator, and the team members) agree on the researchers’ rights, responsibilities, and obligations, principles concerning authorship, and questions concerning archiving and accessing the data.”

2For RCR TENK indicates that in large multi-disciplinary work, at least one author should take responsibility for the research integrity for the whole publication (p. 53).

Authorship attribution

First draft prepared by Thomas Apperley, after consultation and discussion with Veli-Matti Karhulahti and Tero Pasanen.

Second draft incorporated content suggestions from Jonne Arjoranta, Usva Friman, Lobna Hassan, Veli-Matti Karhulahti, Frans Mäyrä, Marko Siitonen and Jaakko Stenros, and copy edits from Jonne Arjoranta, Usva Friman, Lobna Hassan, and Veli-Matti Karhulahti.


CoE GameCult Recommendation for Authorship Attribution by Thomas Apperley is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.