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Response to Bruce A. Thyer's comments on social work authorship.

I appreciate Dr. Thyer's (2013) consideration of the authorship guidelines presented in my editorial, "Social Work Authorship" (Bowen, 2013). Although agreeing with the basic premise that inconsistent authorship assignment practices are problematic, Dr. Thyer lists a number of concerns about my proposal. Although I acknowledge in the editorial that the "devil is in the details" of authorship proposals, the details Dr. Thyer considers most bedeviling do not strike me as major concerns. For example, he suggests that other disciplines will quickly create their own guidelines in response to the emergence of social work guidelines, making it confusing for coauthors from different disciplines to choose which guidelines to follow. First, it seems unlikely to me that any other discipline would hurry to create authorship guidelines just because social work did so. Second, my suggestions for social work journal editors imply that authorship guidelines should be promoted by .journals themselves (among others). If social workers came to agreement on a set of guidelines to follow, the guidelines associated with all social work journals would be the same. Submissions to .journals representing other disciplines that adhere to other standards would logically comply with those other standards; no confusion necessary.

Dr. Thyer also suggests that social work authorship standards might conflict with those in effect for other .journals. However, important foundations of my proposal were a major existing interdisciplinary set of authorship guidelines and existing areas of consensus in ethical statements of multiple disciplines. My proposed standards are not likely, therefore, to conflict with the standards of other disciplines. I did not encounter any professional or .journal authorship standards, for example, that invited submissions with guest, ghost, or gift authors. My guidelines simply spell out, in more detail, terms that are used in many existing authorship standards. Rather than creating conflict or confusion, the guidelines are likely to dispel ambiguity and opacity. Although I certainly lack Dr. Thyer's experience as an editor, it is difficult for me to believe that such guidelines would discourage distinguished non-social work researchers from publishing in our journals. (Perhaps those who would be deterred by rules against guest and gift authorship are not as distinguished as their publication lists imply!)

Dr. Thyer suggests that the Publication Manual of the American Psyckological Association (American Psychological Association [APA], 2009) is a logical source of authorship guidelines for social workers. The APA guidelines are in part derived from the organization's professional ethics statement cited in the editorial. They suffer from the many limitations discussed in my editorial. I do not see them as a partial solution. On the other hand, agreement on the particular standards I outlined is of less interest to me than the adoption of common standards that, as stated in the editorial, "promote greater validity of publication lists and the decisions based on them" in the profession of social work.

Finally, Dr. Thyer's comments are useful in bringing into the discussion of social work--specific guidelines the possible reaction of authors and editors outside of social work. Admittedly, my editorial was myopically concerned with members of the social work profession. It did not occur to me that others might perceive of our efforts to do a better .job of self-regulation as a "huffily proclaiming" that social work is "special or unique." But, 1 have to wonder, are members of other professions really watching us so attentively? And is that a legitimate reason not to take steps to address a known problem?

doi: 10.1093/swr/svt009


American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Bowen, N. K. (2013). Social work authorship [Editorial]. Social Work Research, 37.

Thyer, B. A. (2013). Unwarranted social work authorship: A partial solution is at hand [Rejoinder]. Social Work Research, 37, 14-15.

Natasha K. Bowen, PhD, is associate professor, School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 325 Pittsboro Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; e-mail:

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Title Annotation:REJOINDER
Author:Bowen, Natasha K.
Publication:Social Work Research
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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