How To Become A Scientific Author In Poland: Delete Part Of Someone Else's Article You Think Is Wrong

from the it's-that-easy? dept

Copyrightgirl pointed us to a bizarre judgement from the Polish Supreme Court last year, which found that you can become co-author of a scientific text by deleting a few sentences that you believe to be incorrect:
The defendant wrote an article about music therapy, i.e. applying music in medical treatment. Not being a physician herself, the author had requested three colleagues to verify the article and, as a result, they suggested deleting some parts, which, in their view, were not compatible with accepted medical knowledge (they were probably right, as one of the deleted sentences considered replacing anesthesia by music during surgery, which even to devoted music lovers must sound rather extreme). The defendant initially agreed to publish the article together with her then colleagues as co-authors, but later changed her mind. The colleagues duly sued to have their co-authorship recognised and, in the eyes of many experts surprisingly, won in all instances, including the Supreme Court.
The trouble with this, of course, is that it leads to some ridiculous possibilities:
It also provokes the question whether all reviewers in scientific journals or university professors tutoring students, who certainly quite often (rightly or wrongly) consider certain parts of the reviewed works inaccurate or incorrect and have them deleted should not be regarded co-authors (if so, this would probably have to be the case with all university professors guiding their students through a thesis!).
It will be interesting to see what kind of cases try to build on this decision.

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Filed Under: co-authors, editing, poland


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  1. icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 11 Nov 2011 @ 10:01am

    Shouldn't have agreed to co-authorship in the first place. But any decent writer does a ton of research and gets all the people she can to critique the material before publishing.

    My wife once wrote a fiction story about a boxer (one who engages in the sport of boxing) and spent a lot of effort reading up about boxing and running around interviewing people in the business. And of course many people (including me) were asked to read and critique.

    Should she have named every one of those people as co-author? No. That's what the acknowledgements section is for. Not one of them penned a single word. She's the one who actually did the work writing the story.

    (She never published, so don't bother looking. You will find authors with my last name, they're not related or are very distant relatives.)

    However, I agree with other comments that if the author agreed to co-authorship in a contract, he was obligated.

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