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E.8 Authorship of USGS Scientific Information Products

E. Extended Guidance and Specific Products


E.8.1. What FSP and other requirements related to authorship of USGS scientific information products must be followed?

If the author has full-time, part-time, or volunteer (including emeritus) USGS affiliation or shared affiliation (for example, between the USGS and a university); or if the author is working under a USGS grant, memorandum of understanding, or other cooperative agreement, then FSP requirements must be followed regardless of whether the information product will be published by the USGS or by an outside entity. Refer to SM 502.10SM 502.4, and SM 205.18 for requirements and responsibilities related to authoring USGS scientific information products. In addition, several FSP training modules are available that provide specific guidance for authors of USGS scientific information products. Additional authorship guidance related to ensuring scientific integrity is also available (refer to FAQ E.8.16).

E.8.2. What criteria and guidance are available for determining or attributing authorship of information products?

Authorship of information products indicates that the person or persons named are responsible for the preparation and content of the information product. Authorship should be limited to the individual or individuals who make a substantial intellectual contribution to conception or design of the investigation; the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; and the content of the information product. Any individual who has not met these criteria, independent of rank, status, or affiliation, should not be named as an author.

  • The senior (primary or first) author is generally the individual who was responsible for the most substantive interpretations of the information and had the principal role in preparing the information product.
  • Coauthors are generally determined based on their contribution to the project. All others involved may be credited for their contributions in the acknowledgments section of the product, for example, individuals with only administrative or supervisory responsibilities.
  • When multiple contributors are authoring products, the group should discuss authorship throughout the writing process and confirm final authorship before submitting the product for publication.
  • All authors concur on the final version of the product to be published and agree to be accountable for the published information product.
  • USGS authors must acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others in published work and refrain from taking credit for work with which they were not materially involved (refer to SM 500.25).

E.8.3. How may coauthorship order be addressed for group projects that result in multiple products or sections within a larger product?

In such instances, group members determine the order of coauthorship from one information product to another as they deem appropriate. In the case of lengthy information products, group members determine if authorship of individual sections may be separately designated to recognize specialized contributions.

E.8.4. How do USGS authors list their affiliation in the bylines of information products?

The Bureau affiliation in outside publications should be shown first as “U.S. Geological Survey.” The author’s science center name may be listed next. If applicable, a laboratory or university affiliation follows. For USGS publications (SM 1100.3), affiliation is not shown if all authors are USGS employees. USGS authors should contact their local Science Publishing Network (SPN) Publishing Service Center (PSC) Chief for additional guidance on listing affiliation of non-USGS authors in USGS publications.

E.8.5. How do contractors use a USGS affiliation in the author byline? 

When work is done under contract with the USGS, whether by an individual or through an outside company or other organization, the contract author identifies their contractual relationship to the USGS in the author byline. The contract author's company name or location/town (if self-employed), followed by “Contractor to the U.S. Geological Survey,” is included in the author byline. The contract author must have been formally affiliated with the USGS at the time the work was performed. The contractual relationship may also be described in the acknowledgments section as "This work was done under contract to the U.S. Geological Survey" or similar wording.

E.8.6. How do students, interns, volunteers (including scientists emeriti), visiting scientists, and retirees use a USGS affiliation in their author byline?

These authors use a USGS affiliation in their byline if they are funded in full or in part by the Bureau to do the work or receive other support, such as per diem, office space, or equipment from the USGS in performance of the work. The byline includes the author’s specific relationship or role, for example, student or intern, volunteer (can specify if a scientist emeritus), visiting scientist, followed by U.S. Geological Survey. Retired scientists should use the USGS byline when publishing work from USGS research conducted when they were an active employee. The specific role may also be included in the acknowledgments section with wording such as "The work by [insert author's name] was done while serving as a [insert author’s role] with the U.S. Geological Survey."

E.8.7. What FSP requirements related to authorship apply to a recently hired USGS employee?

  • Work completed prior to employment with the USGS is not subject to the FSP review and approval requirements for scientific information products.
  • Work started prior to USGS employment and completed as part of the employee’s official duties with the USGS must follow FSP review and approval requirements for scientific information products.

E.8.8. How does a recently hired USGS employee show authorship for work completed prior to their USGS employment?

The primary authorship affiliation reflects where the work was done. The author can add their current USGS affiliation using, for example, "current address: U.S. Geological Survey, [insert Science Center name, city, state]," which indicates that the work was not done at or on behalf of the USGS.

E.8.9. How is affiliation shown in the author byline for work initiated prior to USGS employment, but completed as a USGS employee?

Both the former and USGS affiliations are shown. The USGS affiliation is shown first, for example, "U.S. Geological Survey [insert Science Center name, city, state] and [insert where work was initiated]." Refer to guidance in FAQ E.8.4 about consulting SPN if the completed work is to be released in USGS publications (SM 1100.3).

E.8.10. What statements are used in USGS-authored information products (including USGS series publications, journal articles, cooperator publications, and others) when crediting cooperators or collaborators?

The statements to use depend on the type of agreement with the cooperator or collaborator. The exact content and placement are determined by the USGS or non-USGS publisher. Sample content is as follows:

  • If there is no financial agreement between the USGS and a cooperating agency, but the work has been done and the information product written collaboratively, include the statement "Prepared in collaboration with (name of other agency)."
  • If the USGS has a formal cooperative agreement with a Federal, State, Tribal, or local agency or a nongovernmental organization, or has received services of a considerable monetary value, one of the following may be used:
    • If the information product is published by the USGS, include the phrase "Prepared in cooperation with (name of cooperator)."
    • If a USGS information product is published by a cooperating agency, the author's affiliation should be shown and the statement "Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey" should appear on the information product.

USGS authors may consult with the Science Publishing Network for additional guidance or assistance with their publishing needs.

E.8.11. What are the requirements for using proprietary information and copyrighted materials in information products?

Proprietary information requires both an acknowledgment and written permission from the owner (refer to SM 502.5). For copyrighted materials, such as illustrations and photographs used, the figure caption contains the specific words requested by the copyright owner or "Copyrighted; used with permission" (refer to SM 1100.6).

E.8.12. What is the guidance on placement of acknowledgment and credit statements in USGS publications described in SM 1100.3?

Templates available on the internal SPN website provide guidance to authors on placement of acknowledgment and crediting statements in USGS publications (SM 1100.3). Contact your local SPN PSC Chief for further information on the content and placement of acknowledgment statements in USGS publications. Additional information on acknowledgment statements is available in SM 502.10.

E.8.13. What happens if a USGS scientist is added as an author to an information product that has been submitted for outside publication or is published?

In all outside collaborations, USGS authors should discuss early in the process any potential information products that may come from the work and the required steps in the FSP review and approval process.

  • If an information product from such collaborations is submitted for publication before Bureau approval, the USGS author should contact the lead outside author and request that the publication not be made publicly accessible (i.e., galleys should not be posted online) until USGS FSP requirements are met. Alternatively, the USGS scientist’s name should be removed as an author and added to the acknowledgments.
  • USGS-authored information products published without Bureau approval are in violation of FSP and can result in disciplinary action. Review of such products can be requested for consideration of approval with a detailed explanation of the circumstances documented in the internal IPDS. Contact your BAO or the BAO Coordinator for further guidance.

E.8.14. How do FSP review and approval requirements apply when a non-USGS scientist is the lead or senior author of a scientific information product? 

The FSP review and approval requirements apply to a USGS scientist who is a coauthor even if a non-USGS scientist is the lead or senior author. If the FSP requirements are not followed, the USGS scientist may not be listed as a coauthor.

E.8.15. How are disputes or disagreements concerning authorship handled?

Coauthors must make every effort to resolve authorship-related disputes or disagreements among themselves. Authorship disputes may include (1) order of authorship, (2) individuals who claim to merit authorship but have been omitted and (3) individuals who have been included as authors but have not contributed substantially to the work to be published. If disputes or disagreements cannot be resolved among the coauthors, USGS employees should consult their supervisory/management organizational alignment up to the Regional Director or Associate Director for assistance. If assistance is needed beyond these efforts, authors and managers may refer to the additional guidance as described in FAQ E.8.16 or the contacts listed on the USGS Scientific Integrity website.

E.8.16. Where can I find additional guidance related to scientific integrity and authorship?

Department of the Interior (DOI) FAQs on Authorship in Scientific and Scholarly Work Products are available as part of additional guidance made available on the USGS Scientific Integrity website, which also includes links to the DOI Scientific Integrity website and the DOI Code of Conduct. 

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