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Responsible Conduct of Research Training

Guidelines on Authorship

  1. Authorship
    A person claiming authorship of a scholarly publication must have met the following criteria:
    1. Substantial participation in conception and design of the study, or in analysis and interpretation of data;
    2. Substantial participation in the drafting of the manuscript or in the substantive editing of the manuscript;
    3. Final approval of the version of the manuscript to be published;
    4. Ability to explain and defend the study in public or scholarly settings.

    (Note: these criteria follow closely those recommended by several professional associations. See especially the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Annals of Internal Medicine 1988; 108: 258-65.)

  2. Acknowledgment
    Contributions that do not justify authorship should be acknowledged separately in the notes to the manuscript. These may include general supervision of a research group, assistance in obtaining funding, or technical support.

  3. “Honorary Authorship”
    A claim of authorship by, or assignment of authorship to, persons who may have been associated in some way with a study but do not meet the four criteria in item 1 may constitute an unethical research practice.

  4. Graduate Student Authorship
    Faculty should be especially aware of their responsibility to safeguard the rights of graduate students to publish the results of their research.

  5. Senior Author and Order of Authorship
    The senior author is generally defined as the person who leads a study and makes a major contribution to the work. All the authors at the outset of a project should establish senior authorship, preferably in a written memorandum of understanding. This memorandum of understanding should reference the authors’ agreement to abide by their departments’ policy on authorship or the institution’s default policy on authorship. At the outset of the study the Senior Author should discuss the outline of work and a tentative Order of Authorship with the study participants. As projects proceed, agreements regarding authorship may need to be changed. It is the responsibility of the senior author to assure that the contributions of study participants are properly recognized.