Where Are the Missing Coauthors? Authorship Practices in Participatory Research Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractOriginally marginal, participatory research has become an increasingly important methodology in the social, biophysical, and interdisciplinary sciences. The overall increase in publications based on participatory research has raised questions about crediting the contributions of nonacademic collaborators. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, we analyzed trends and patterns in authorship and acknowledgment practices in a sample of 262 journal articles reporting on participatory research on rural livelihoods published from 1975 to 2013. Six percent of the researchers recognized the intellectual contributions of their nonacademic collaborators with coauthorship and 51 percent with acknowledgment. Through interviews with lead authors of coauthored articles, we analyzed factors that shaped whether authorship was shared with nonacademic collaborators. Despite facing numerous barriers, researchers were motivated to coauthor in order to recognize intellectual contributions, practice research ethics, and work toward epistemic decolonization. We argue that coauthorship can be an important component of epistemic justice in participatory research and encourage participatory researchers to discuss authorship with their nonacademic collaborators as a routine component of engaged scholarship. We also note that nonacademics contributions to scientific knowledge need to be taken into account in understandings of the practice of science.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Sarna-Wojcicki, D., Perret, M., Eitzel, M. V., & Fortmann, L.

complete list of authors

  • Sarna-Wojcicki, Daniel||Perret, Margaret||Eitzel, MV||Fortmann, Louise

publication date

  • December 2017