It is important that authorship of research outputs is correctly attributed. This ensures that contributors receive the appropriate credit and that people who have not contributed substantially are not inappropriately credited.
Who should be an author?
For a person to be recorded as an author of an output requires that he or she is directly involved in the creation by making substantial contributions through a combination of the following criteria:
- conceiving or designing the project
- analysing and interpreting the data on which it is based; or
- writing or critically revising the intellectual content in the output.
In addition to these criteria all authors must give final agreement to the version to be submitted for publication and retain a record of that agreement. Minor corrections (e.g. correction of typographical errors) to proofs may be managed by the corresponding author without the need for further agreement. However, substantial changes in content (e.g., new results, corrected values, and changes of title and authorship) are not allowed without the approval of all authors.
Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. General supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship.
Any part of an article critical to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author.
A person who qualifies as an author must not be included or excluded without their permission.
Researchers should comply with authorship conventions appropriate to their discipline. These requirements may vary according to discipline, journal requirements and funding provisions. Researchers should be familiar with international best practice in their discipline, for example ICMJE: Roles & Responsibilities.
In what order should authors be listed?
The standard order of authors can vary between disciplines. The order of authorship should be a joint decision of the co-authors. If you assign author order in an atypical way you should include an explanation in the publication. Many journals are now asking authors to explain the individual contributions of authors.
A common way of ordering authors is to list them in the order of their contribution to the publication from most to least. Depending on the field, the senior author may then be listed as the final author. Resources such as Authorder may be useful for establishing the relative contributions of authors in a collaborative project.
What are the responsibilities of researchers?
- follow the guidelines stated above when determining if a person has made a substantial contribution to the publication
- come to an agreement with all the eligible authors
- include all the eligible authors. All authors must explicitly accept or decline authorship
- do not allow ineligible people to be included as authors
- acknowledge all those who have contributed to the research and declare any conflicts of interest
- keep records of authorship agreements.
What if there is an issue with authorship?
If you have an issue surrounding authorship among your collaborators you should first attempt to resolve it through discussion with them. It is best to have a discussion about authorship early so that everyone is informed.
If you would like more information about authorship issues or if you are concerned about any aspect of authorship practice at Macquarie please contact a Research Integrity Advisor.
If you are from outside Macquarie University and have concerns about authorship practices please contact the Director, Research Ethics and Integrity.