1. General Introduction:

As a term, authorship can refer to the creator or originator of an idea, or those who develop and bring to fruition the product that disseminates intellectual or creative works (or, expressions). It confers credit and has important academic, social, and financial implications. Authorship also implies responsibility and accountability for published work.

At a minimum, authors should guarantee that they have participated in creating the work as presented and that they have not violated any other author’s legal rights (e.g. copyright) in the process.

2. Criteria for authorship:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work s/he has done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.

All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged (see, below).

3. Non-Author Contributors

Contributors who meet fewer than all 4 of the above criteria for authorship should not be listed as authors, but they should be acknowledged. Examples of activities that alone (without other contributions) do not qualify a contributor for authorship are acquisition of funding; general supervision of a research group or general administrative support; and writing assistance, technical editing, language editing, and proofreading. Those whose contributions do not justify authorship may be acknowledged individually or together as a group under a single heading (e.g. "Surveyors" or "Participating Investigators"), and their contributions should be specified (e.g., "served as scientific advisors," "critically reviewed the study proposal," "collected data", "participated in writing or technical editing of the manuscript").

Adapted from (a) ICMJE, 'Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors' and (b) COPE, 'Discussion Document: Authorship'