May 25, 2023
Hi, I’m Alison, a member of Co-Production Collective. I have been involved with the Collective since 2017. I live with multiple long-term conditions and am committed to research that is equitable and rooted in promoting benefit for all.
On the 24 April Alison, Humma, Isaac, Lynn, Naheen, Niccola, Nira, Sarah and Yesmin from Co-Production Collective participated in a workshop alongside members of the UCL Institute of Global Prosperity about the challenges of equity in authorship as part of the UCL Open Science Conference, organised by the UCL Office for Open Science & Scholarship, part of UCL Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science (LCCOS) department.
While co-production is increasingly valued in health and social care research often those of us contributing from the perspective of ‘lived experience’ do not receive enough credit for our significant contribution to the process. This is often particularly the case when thinking about authorship of research outputs, such as journal papers and books. This workshop offered an important opportunity for discussions to held with a range of different perspectives and experiences present.
The workshop focused on currently widespread practices and how it might be possible to create equitable conditions for all in relation to authorship. All participants agreed that those who have actively contributed (from whatever perspective) to the research outputs should be acknowledged. One participant summed up this viewpoint by stating "research is hardly ever done single-handedly and crediting everyone who contributed is just the right thing to do! ".
Many challenges were articulated and while some of these were about process and administrative difficulties, the ‘bigger’ challenges voiced were around the traditional hierarchal culture and power dynamics prevalent within academic authorship. One participant summed their experiences as "those with the most power often end up being authors". The need to think about culture and the role it plays in maintaining the status quo was also discussed with another participant stating, "the main distraction is the artificial values set by the scholarly publishing system which are out of date".
In terms what may promote better practice towards authorship justice, many participants voiced a key need for clarity and consensus on how authorship will work early on in the project. While opening up opportunities to be named and/or cited is important, there is also a need to think about options for people who may not want the standard credited authorship. It is also important to acknowledge that dissemination isn’t just about authorship and co-authorship, it is not for everyone, there is ‘no one size fits all’, and everyone’s choices should be respected.
While everyone who took part in the workshop recognised the complexity of the issues around equity within authorship and the need for much more discussion, there was an overwhelming sense that there is a real value and need for such discussions. Having such conversations and promoting equity and better practices within authorship does not only have relevance to those of us involved in research from a lived experience perspective, but also to many other groups such as junior researchers, librarians, and community leaders.
After the workshop, it was agreed that the UCL Office for Open Science & Scholarship team would write up what was discussed, and this would be shared internally at UCL, as well as with the general public. – With the aim of ensuring ongoing dialogues regarding the Open Science agenda with relevant parties that enrich conversations towards securing more equitable and inclusive practices within authorship and credit in research processes.
The session has already gone on to influence one of our Collective, who has since got in touch to say:
“It made me pluck up the courage to ask to be an author on a project I set up and did the initial work on and the professor received it really well and said well done for getting in touch and rightfully asking as these things can be daunting and missed. So perhaps people are waking up a bit?”
We would love to hear your views and experiences relating to this subject. Please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d also love to take part in other discussions of this nature so please let us if you know if you come across any other opportunities for us to further this discussion.