[Rd] authorship and citation

S Ellison S.Ellison at LGCGroup.com
Thu Oct 8 14:56:37 CEST 2015

> > I read the CRAN policies twice, and there
> > is no official guideline on how to compile the citation.

The policies are about copyright and IP, not credited authorship. There's overlap but they are not the same thing. 

You can see whether someone is a copyright holder by referring to the license you had and whether there is any of their content remaining. But that might not mean they are package 'authors'. If you reuse code verbatim from another package's function, you _must_ note the copyright - but that does not necessarily make the original author of the code a co-author of your package (though I would expect to see at least an acknowledgement in the particular function's help page). And not all 'authors' need necessarily provide code - they could, for example, have developed the core maths the code implements. Of itself, that does not confer copyright in any part of the package code or help text, but it's very likely they'd deserve credit as co-authors. 

Common sense would suggest to me that if you are in doubt about whether someone should be on your author list (as opposed to copyright owner list) in a package's citation, you should probably ask them. And if you are considering removing an author, you should very definitely be in doubt because there was a reason they were there.

The answers you get from different contributors might be different so it would not be surprising if packages differed in the extent to which they cited contributions or added acknowledgements. In essence, though, if everybody feels fairly treated by the citations within a package, there's no reason for anyone else to complain about it, and if someone feels they have not been properly credited they can - and should - contact the maintainer and say so.

So ask before removing someone from your citation. If they say 'no', don’t remove them.

S Ellison

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