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Deciding on Authorship

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Whether students or professionals, individuals collaborating on a research project should discuss authorship issues, such as who will be designated as senior author, the order of other authors, and any other individual acknowledgements for other contributions, before initiating work on the project. All parties should familiarize themselves with authorship guidelines suggested by their respective disciplines. In the absence of such guidelines, prospective authors should follow the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Any agreement reached regarding authorship should, ideally, be recorded in writing and should outline the formula used for determining who the senior author should be while also establishing the authorship order for the rest of the investigators involved in the project. The agreement should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate changes that may arise while the project is in progress (e.g., an individual not initially designated as author ends up making substantive contributions that earn her authorship in the paper, or an individual previously designated as author fails to carry out the designated duties, making his/her contributions not sufficiently or importantly enough to merit authorship).

GUIDELINE 24: Authorship determination should be discussed prior to commencing research collaboration and should be based on established guidelines, such as those of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.