Prologue :

Attribution of credit and responsibility is central to the structure of science. Authorship is the most visible form of credit, but credit in publications is also given in the form of acknowledgments or appropriate reference citations. Because credit for publication is so important to disputes and allegations of research misconduct, it is worth considering why credit is more than a matter of personal gratification. The framework of science depends in part on the ability of institutions, policy makers, and the public to identify who is responsible for the work and its interpretation. Funding agencies consider past success, as evidenced by authorship, in the allocation of research grants. Research institutions often use authorship as evidence of creative contributions that warrant promotion. Scientists themselves may use credit for past work as a mechanism to attract both new trainees and willing collaborators. Finally, in an era of increasing emphasis on commercialization, authorship and credit help to define intellectual property rights. These, and other reasons, explain both scientists’ desire for the credit of authors.

“An author must take responsibility for at least one component of the work, should be able to identify who is responsible for each other component, and should ideally be confident in their co-authors’ ability and integrity”

1. General Principles

Authorship might be justified by significant contributions to the ideas that preceded the work, the design of the studies, execution of the study, analysis of the data, or drafting the manuscript. Yet some questions about who deserves authorship are not easily answered. Can simply performing the data collection ever be enough to justify authorship? Should every author be able to defend all aspects of a manuscript, or only some? Should all authors bear the same responsibility if any part of a manuscript is later found to depend on falsified or fabricated data? Because of questions like these, it is useful to explicate some core principles as a basis approaching these issues.


The credit of authorship is accompanied by responsibility for the work being published.


 If the work is later found to be irresponsible or misrepresented, then all authors will have their name associated with it. Thus, all authors share responsibility for assuring that the studies and findings have been represented truthfully.

 1.1 Principles of authorship should apply to all scholarly work.

 1.2 Authorship assigns responsibility and accountability for the content of scholarly work and intellectual products.

 1.3 Authorship gives credit for intellectual work.

1.4 Authorship assumes independence from any agreements that could limit, or be perceived to limit, the analysis, interpretation and/or publication of data

1.5. Information and data should be reported truthfully and completely. Plagiarism, fabrication, and falsification are unacceptable practices subject to Dartmouth Research Misconduct Policy and Procedures :

2. Criteria

Note: Criteria for authorship should be based on the accepted practice in the particular discipline and the guidelines of the specific publisher / journal. The following information is provided for guidance.

2.1 An author should have made substantial contributions to the scholarly work and intellectual process. Examples of activities considered to be a substantial contribution may include one or more of the following: creating the original idea, project planning, experimental work, data collection, analysis, interpretation.

 2.2 An author should be able to articulate and defend their contribution to the scholarly work. They should know and be able to explain how their contribution relates to the overall project.

2.3 Author should be involved in drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content and final approval of the version to be published.

 2.4 As single contributions, the acquisition of funding, the provision of technical services and/or materials, the collection of data, or the general supervision of a research group are generally not adequate to justify authorship.

2.5 Honorary (named author who has not met authorship criteria), planted (author named without his/her knowledge or consent), guest (individual not named as author but who has contributed substantially to the work), and relinquished (person meeting the criteria for authorship but ceding authorship to co-workers who may not have met the criteria) authorships are not acceptable.

3. Code of Conduct

3.1. The primary author should carefully review the policies and procedures of the journal prior to submission in order to adhere to all applicable requirements.

3.2. Authorship should be discussed early and reviewed periodically in every collaborative relationship.

3.3. One author (primary/senior/submitting/responsible) should assure the following:

            i. Each author meets criteria for authorship;

            ii. Each author has reviewed the whole scholarly work,

            iii. Each author has consented to authorship prior to the submission of the product.

3.4. One author should assume responsibility for coordinating the completion and submission of the work, for assuring adherence to the rules of submission, and for coordinating responses to inquiries or future challenges.

3.5. Junior researchers and students ( under-graduate, post – graduate) meeting the criteria for authorship must be included as authors.

 3.6. The order of authorship may not necessarily indicate the magnitude of the contributions of the individual authors. Authors should adhere to the norm of their discipline and the publisher’s guidelines. The following are suggestions for determining order: i. The person who has made the major contribution to the project and/or taken the lead in writing should be first author; ii. The person who has general responsibility for the project is frequently listed last; iii. Authors who have made major contributions for analysis, interpretation, or writing may be listed immediately following the first author; iv. Individuals who fulfil the criteria for authorship may be listed in alphabetical order also.

 3.7. Authors should attempt to resolve authorship disputes themselves. If disputes cannot be settled they should be referred to a third party (Department Head, Dean, or Chief-coordinator) for resolution.

 Some journals now also request one or more authors, referred to as “guarantors” be identified as the persons who take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, from inception to published article, and publish that information.

Increasingly, authorship of multicenter trials is attributed to a group. All members of the group who are named as authors should fully meet the above criteria for authorship/contributor ship.

The group should jointly make decisions about contributors/authors before submitting the manuscript for publication. The corresponding author/guarantor should be prepared to explain the presence and order of these individuals. It is not the role of editors to make authorship/contributor ship decisions or to arbitrate conflicts related to authorship.

4. Acknowledgments

4.1 Contributions : All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an acknowledgments section. Examples include ;

                  i. Purely technical help,

                  ii. A person who provided writing assistance

                   iii. Department chairperson who provided only general support.

 4.2 Editors should ask corresponding authors to declare whether they had assistance with study design, data collection, data analysis, or manuscript preparation. If such assistance was available, the authors should disclose the identity of the individuals who provided this assistance and the entity that supported it in the published article. Financial and material support should also be acknowledged.

4.3 Groups of persons who have contributed materially to the paper but whose contributions do not justify authorship may be listed under such headings as “clinical investigators” or “participating investigators,” and their function or contribution should be described—for example, “served as scientific advisors,” “critically reviewed the study proposal,” “collected data,” or “provided and cared for study patients.” Because readers may infer their endorsement of the data and conclusions, these persons must give written permission to be acknowledged.