Case author relationships under the microscope


Times Higher Education (1-7 June) investigated persistent claims from PhD students of ill treatment at the hands of their supervisors.

The feature reports claims of sexism, institutionalised bullying through an imbalanced relationship between supervisor and those being supervised, and PhD students being seen widely as a cheap workforce.

Kathleen Barker, an experienced supervisor and clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health, identifies authorship as one area in which good supervisors seek to establish clarity as early as possible: “Who writes the papers? How is authorship decided? Will you protect your people in authorship disputes with collaborating groups, or will you sacrifice a trainee to keep last authorship for yourself?”

woman writing her notebookI meet many PhD or Masters student authors in the course of presenting our annual awards for case writing. I have been impressed by the regard in which they are held and by how senior lead authors have been at pains to make sure that student authors and collaborators are acknowledged properly.

But I wonder how often PhD students contribute to researching or writing cases without being given proper recognition as a co-author?

In another Times Higher Education article – this time from the edition 18-24 May – by Mark Hayter and Roger Watson of the Faculty of Health Science at the University of Hull, explores the question of whether or not it is right for PhD supervisors to publish with their students.

While recognising that some academics, particularly in the social sciences, see supervisors publishing with students, as predatory, Hayter and Watson do not. They argue strongly in favour of publishing jointly authored works as a supervisor’s ‘moral responsibility’ to help their students publish.

Where do you stand?


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Filed under Business schools, Case method, Case writing, Research

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