Authorship and Collaborative Research among scholars in Open and Distance Learning Institutions in Africa

Main Article Content

Kezia H. Mkwizu
Deus D. P. Ngaruko


This paper is based on a study that examined authorship and collaborative research among scholars in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions with a focus on prospects for Africa. The study involved intensive documentary desk review of conference book of abstracts and conference proceedings to examine authorship and collaborative research. The study reviewed a total of 10 conference books of abstracts and proceedings organized or hosted by universities including ODL institutions in Africa. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise some thematic areas of interest. It is revealed in this paper that authorship in terms of co-authorship is high in some conferences but low in others in relation to collaborative research. Furthermore, authorship between two scholars was higher compared to three or more authors in collaborative research. This implies that co-authorship is trending in relation to collaborative research thus raising collaboration prospects for Africa. It is therefore recommended that ODL scholars should be encouraged to do more co-author publications from collaborative research in order to promote teamwork and comparative studies in knowledge production for socio-economic development relevant for Africa and beyond.

Article Details

How to Cite
Mkwizu, K. H., & Ngaruko, D. D. P. (2019). Authorship and Collaborative Research among scholars in Open and Distance Learning Institutions in Africa. Asian Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 47-57. Retrieved from


African Council for Distance Education (ACDE). (2019). The Practice of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Tanzania. Retrieved from
Ahmed, A., & Alamri, Y. (2019). Promoting authorship integrity in scientific publication. Academic Medicine, 94(2), 151.
Anaquot, K. (2008). Collaborative Research: An “indigenous lens” perspective. Retrieved from
Birnholtz, J. (2008). When authorship ins’t enough: lessons from CERN on the implications of formal and informal credit attribution mechanisms in collaborative research. Journal of Electron Publishing, 11(1).
Borgman, C., & Furner, J. (2002). Scholarly communication and bibliometrics. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 36(1), 2-72.
Bozeman, B., & Boardman, C. (2014). Research collaboration and team science: A state-of-the-art review and agenda. Springer Brief in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Springer International Publishing.
Cambridge University Press. (2019). Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from
Cloete, N., & Bunting, I. (2013). Challenges and opportunities for Arican Universities to increase knowledge production. Paris: OCED.
Cronin, B., Shaw, D., & Berre, K.L. (2003). A cast of thousands: Co-authorship and subauthorship collaboration in the 20th century as manifested in the scholarly journal literature of psychology and philosophy. JASIST, 54(9), 855-871.
Daly, A.J. (2010). Social Network Theory and Educational Change. Retrieved from
Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (1995). The Triple Helix-University-industry-government relations. A laboratory for knowledge based economic development. EASST review, 14(1), 14 -19.
Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: From national systems and “Mode 2” to a Triple Helix of university-industry-government relations. Research Policy, 29(2), 109-123.
Faulkes, Z. (2018). Resolving authorship disputes by mediation and arbitration. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 3(12), 1-7.
Ghajarzadeh, M., Mohammadifar, M., & Safari, S. (2013). How to define an author? Awareness of Authorship Criteria. Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, 3(1), 226-227.
Gilde, L.t. (2014). Social Network Theory in International Relations Research. Retrieved from
Grifo, F.T., Russo, G.S., & Otto, M. (2016). Best Practices for Designating Authorship. Retrieved from
Hanson, S.M.H. (1988). Collaborative research and authorship credit: beginning guidelines. Nursing Research, 37(1), 49-51.
Holcombe, A.O. (2019). Contributorship, not authorship: Use credit to indicate who did what. Retrieved from
Iglic, H., Doreian, P., Kronegger, L., & Ferligoj, A. (2017). With whom do researchers collaborate and why? Scientometrics, 112(1), 153-174.
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). (2019). Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors. Retrieved from
Karz, J.S., & Martin, B.R. (1997). What is research collaboration? Research Policy, 26, 1-18.
Knox, H., Savage, M., & Harvey, P. (2006). Social networks and the study of relations: networks as method metaphor and form. Economy and Society, 35(1), 113-140.
Kornhaber, R.A., Mclean, L.M., & Baber, R.J. (2015). Ongoing ethical issues concerning authorship in biomedical journal and integrative review. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 10, 4837-4846.
Lee, J.H., Jones, M.C., & Downie, J.S. (2009). An analysis of ISMIR proceedings: Patterns of authorship, topic, and citation. In the 10th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference (ISMIR) 2009.
Luo, J., & Matthews, KRW. (2013). Globalisation of stem cell science: An examination of current and past collaborative research networks. PLos ONE, 8(9).
Morrison, M. (2017). A good collaboration is based on unique contributions from each side: Assessing the dynamics of collaboration in stem cell science. Life Sciences, Society and Policy, 13(7), 1-20.
Patience, G.S., Galli, F., Patience, P.A., & Boffito, D.C. (2019). Intellectual contributions meriting authorship: Survey results from the top cited authors across all science categories. PLoS ONE, 14(1), 1-20. Retrieved from
Pradhan, P., Panda, S., & Chandrakar, R. (2011). Authorship pattern and degree of collaboration in Indian Chemistry literature. 8 th International CALIBER - 2011, Goa University, Goa.
O’Sullivan, P.S., Stoddard, H.A., & Kalishman, S. (2010). Collaborative research in medical education: A discussion of theory and practice. Wiley Online Library, 44(12), 1175-1184.
SADC. (2009). Capacity building in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Project: An Information, Education, and Communication Strategy for Open and Distance Learning. Retrieved from
Schultz, J. L., Comer, D. R., Cooper, E. A., Mkwizu, K. H., Bhardwaj, B. R., Barnes, K. L., Andrade, M., Lenaghan, J. A., Westover, J. H., Soltwisch, B. W., Cavanagh, K. V., Jhamb, S., Kanov, J., Park, S., Jasperson, J. O., Dawson, G. A., French-Holloway, M., Kaur, K., Gupta, K., Lewis, V. J., Stewart, C. H., Szyliowicz, D., Nam, K., Heilmann, S. G., & Chapman, J. R. (2018). Two Thumbs Up: Using Movies to Improve Learning. Professional Development Workshop (PDW) proposed for the 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Retrieved from
Schultz-Jones, B. (2009). Examining information behavior through social networks. Journal of Documentation, 65(4), 592-631.
Sharma, R. C., & Kawachi, P. (2012). Engaging Learners in the Digital Age through Self- Discovery Learning. In Hai-Jew, S. (Ed.), Constructing Self- Discovery Learning Spaces Online: Scaffolding and Decision Making Technologies. (pp. 218-229). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-61350-320-1.ch012
Smith, E., & Master, Z. (2017). Best practice to order authors in multi/interdisciplinary health sciences research publications. Account Research, 24(4), 243-67.
Sprunger, J.G. (2017). The Benefits of engaging in collaborative research relationships. Association of Psychological Science. Retrieved from
Stretton, S. (2014). Systematic review on the primary and secondary reporting of the prevalence of ghostwriting in the medical literature. BMJ Open, 4(7), e004777.
Tarkang, E.E., Kweku, M., & Zotor, F.B. (2017). Publication practices and responsible authorship: A review article. Journal of Public Health in Africa, 8(1), 36-42. Retrieved from
Taylor and Francis Group. (2017). Co-authorship in the humanities and social sciences. Retrieved from
Teixeira da Silva, J.A., & Dobranszki, J. (2019). How authorship is defined by multiple publishing organizations and STM publishers. Account Research, 23(2), 97-122.
Uijtdehaage, S., Mavis, B., & Durning, S.J. (2018). Whose paper is it anyway? Authorship criteria according to established scholars in health professions education. Academic Medicine, 93, 1171-1175.
Valente, T.W., & Pitts, S.R. (2017). Analysis as Applied to Public Health: Challenges and Opportunities. Annual Review of Public Heath, 38, 103-118.
Vinther, S., & Rosenberg, J. (2012). Appearance of ghost and gift authors in Ugeskrift for Laeger and Danish Medical Journal. Danish Medical Journal, 59(2), A4455.
Weber, M. (2018). The effects of listing authors in alphabetical order: a review of the empirical evidence. Research Evaluation, 27(3), 238-245.
Wislar, J.S., Flanagin, A., Fontanarosa, P.B., & DeAngelis, C.D. (2011). Honorary and ghost authorship in high impact biomedical journals: A cross sectional survey. BMJ, 2011, 343.
Yanjiu, D. (2016). Who is innocent in authorship misconduct? Zoological Research, 37(3), 117-118.
Zauner, H., Nogoy, N., Edmunds, S.C., Zhou, H., & Goodman, L. (2018). Editorial: We need to talk about authorship. Gigascience, 7(12), 1-4. Retrieved from