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Fair Attribution Guidelines for Technical Support

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Fair Attribution Guidelines for Technical Support

Queen’s University recognises the importance of the role that technicians play in the delivery of world-leading research.

Users of facilities and services will interact with technicians either during the development of items related to experiments, the preparation of materials, training on equipment, running of routine samples, or during experimental design and analysis of results. It is only fair that the contribution of technicians and facilities to a user's research is attributed in the appropriate manner.

As signatories to the Technician Commitment, we wish to ensure there is visibility and recognition for technician contribution and guidance is provided to ensure this is addressed correctly. Where appropriate, we expect research active academic staff to follow these guidelines. We also expect that Post-Doctoral Research Assistants and PhD students agree to follow the fair attribution guidelines below, with their supervisors, in advance of conducting their experiments.

There are five distinct cases in which technical expertise, facilities and services are used:
1. User led experiments within the University, with initial training by technicians.
2. Technician support in experimental design and/or data acquisition and/or data interpretation and analysis.
3. Collaboration with external users in which technicians contribute to experimental design and/or data acquisition, and/or data interpretation.
4. Occasional use, to obtain data for a simple experiment, where technicians perform routine characterisation, sending data to the user to analyse.
5. The preparation of items or materials used during experiments.

For all five cases, we anticipate that publications and reports will include the following acknowledgement statement:
“The Authors acknowledge use of [insert equipment or service used] provided by [insert team or School name], Queen’s University Belfast.”

In cases (2) and (3) the research has required intellectual contributions from one or more technicians. These technicians should be included within the author list of the resultant publication or report and included in discussions during drafting and publication.

In case (4) technicians assisting with the experiment or activity should be acknowledged by name:
“The Authors would like to acknowledge the help or [inset name], and the use of [insert service or characterisation facilities] within the [insert team or school name] at Queen’s University Belfast.”

In situations where a technician feels that they have contributed to the work, or a researcher wishes to engage the support of a staff member, a discussion should be initiated with the researcher on what would be fair attribution in this instance. If the work is published and fair attribution is not followed, the technician should raise this with their line manager in the first instance.

Download a copy here: QUB Fair Attribution Guidelines for Technical Support


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