Authorship confers credit to substantive intellectual contributions and implies responsibility and accountability for published work. Individuals credited as authors should understand their role in taking responsibility and being accountable for what is published.
Authorship connotes at least 2 of the following contributions:
- Initial idea: Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work
- Data acquisition: Field/lab/methodological work
- Data analysis and interpretation
- Write and/or edit the article: Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content
Aside from this, all co-authors should approve the final version to be published, and agree 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.
All those designated as authors should meet two of the above criteria, and all who meet 2 of the above criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet the criteria should instead be acknowledged. All individuals who meet the first criterion should have the opportunity to participate in the review, drafting, and final approval of the manuscript.
1. Contributor Roles - Attribution, Credits & Accountability
Main Author, Leading Author or First Author: The individuals who conduct the larger part of the work. Leading authors should be accountable for the parts of the work they have done, should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for other parts of the work, and have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors. They are responsible for identifying who meets the criteria for coauthor and non-author contributions and ideally, should do so when planning the work, making modifications as appropriate as the work progresses. It is recommended to start with an author list that contains the people that really contributed, and remember that credit is infinitely divisible.
Corresponding author: The corresponding author is the one individual who takes primary responsibility for communication with the journal during the manuscript submission, peer review, and publication process. The corresponding author typically ensures that all the journal’s administrative requirements, such as providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation, and disclosures of relationships and activities are correctly completed and reported, although these duties may be delegated to one or more co-authors. The corresponding author should be available throughout the submission and peer review process to respond to editorial queries in a timely way, and should be available after publication to respond to critiques of the work and cooperate with any requests from the journal for data or additional information should questions about the paper arise after publication.
Multi-Author group: When a large multi-author group has conducted the work, the group ideally should decide who will be an author before the work is started and confirm who is an author before submitting the manuscript for publication.
Non-Author Contributors (acknowledged): Contributors who meet fewer than 2 of the above criteria for authorship should not be listed as authors, and should be acknowledged. Examples of activities that alone (without other contributions) do not qualify a contributor for authorship are the acquisition of funding; general supervision of a research group or general administrative support; 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. "Clinical Investigators" or "Participating Investigators"), and their contributions should be specified (e.g., "served as scientific advisors," "critically reviewed the study proposal," "collected data," "provided and cared for study patients", "participated in writing or technical editing of the manuscript").
The following definitions are partially based on CRediT.
Conceptualization of Ideas: Formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims.
Methodology: Development or design of methodology; creation of models.
Software: Programming and software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components.
Validation: Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs.
Formal analysis: Application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other formal techniques to analyze or synthesize study data.
Investigation: Conducting a research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments, or data/evidence collection.
Resources: Provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or other analysis tools.
Data Curation: Management activities to annotate (produce metadata), scrub data and maintain research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself) for initial use and later reuse.
Writing - Original Draft: Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft (including substantive translation).
Writing - Review & Editing: Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work by those from the original research group, specifically critical review, commentary or revision – including pre-or postpublication stages.
Visualization: Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically visualization/ data presentation.
Supervision: Oversight and leadership responsibility for the research activity planning and execution, including mentorship external to the core team.
Project administration: Management and coordination responsibility for the research activity planning and execution.
Funding acquisition: Acquisition of the financial support for the project leading to this publication.
Contribution in multiple roles: When multiple people serve in the same role, a ‘degree of contribution’ should be further specified as either ‘lead’, ‘equal’, or ‘supporting’. Roles are intended to apply to all those who contribute to a project — and it is recommended that, if possible, all contributors be listed, whether or not they are formally listed as authors. It is also intended that multiple roles be assigned to a single person where appropriate.