The ethics of multiple authorship: power, performativity and the gift economy

B.J. Macfarlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


The allocation of authorship credit in academic publication raises complex ethical issues but is comparatively under-researched, particularly in the social sciences. The paper analyses the results of research into attitudes to multiple authorship based on a survey questionnaire of academics working in education faculties in universities in Hong Kong. The results illustrate the way in which intellectual contribution is often overridden by considerations related to hierarchical power relations, notably in relation to research project leadership and doctoral supervision. These considerations normalize a gift economy. Belief in the legitimacy of power ordering and gift ordering of academic contributions to multiple authored publications indicate the need for research universities to pay more regard to institutional policies on scholarly authorship.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2015

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Higher Education Transformations


  • authorship
  • collaborative work
  • academic ethics
  • performativity


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