Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research & Publication in Medicine & Health

About Authorship

Authorship of a manuscript should be discussed and agreed upon early in the writing process. Authorship represents professional and intellectual contributions to a written work and any listed author(s) should make substantive contributions to the manuscript.

Many publishers require authors to delineate roles and contributions to manuscript preparation.

Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) provides the following guidance for authorship and contributorship - DOI: https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.3.3

COPE provides key information resources for authors, core policy guidance for editors, notes on the scope of submission guidelines, resources for managing pre- and post-publication authorship disputes, guidance for institutions to manage and support authorship integrity.

Key points

  • Various disciplines have norms, guidelines, and rules governing authorship, to preserve the lineage of the creation and qualities of the work and its origins. 
  • Authorship conveys significant privileges, responsibilities, and legal rights, and may have implications for career advancement.
  • Publishers are accountable for making author guidelines transparent and appropriate for the medium and genre, and upholding and supporting author rights and licensing laws.
  • Authors are accountable for following discipline-specific guidelines
  • Two minimum requirements define authorship across all definitions – making a substantial contribution to the work and being accountable for the work and its published form.
  • Acknowledgements may be used to denote contributions to the work that do not meet the criteria of Authorship
  • Referring to recognised guidelines can help manage respectful negotiation of authorship, especially in relationships with power imbalance.
  • All journals should have a basic policy on what they consider qualifies someone to be an author of a research paper; stated clearly in the journal’s information for authors, and confirmed in a statement of authorship provided before publication.
  • Journals should have a process for handling authorship issues and disputes identified or raised during the review and publication process, and after publication.
  • Institutions and organisations should be prepared to contribute to the investigations of authorship disputes.
  • Referring to recognised guidelines can help manage respectful negotiation of authorship, especially in relationships with power imbalance.

How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers - DOI: https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2018.1.1

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has identified four criteria for authorship:

  • Significant involvement in study conception/design, data collection, or data analysis/interpretation;
  • Involvement in drafting or revising manuscript;
  • Approval of final version of manuscript for publication; and
  • Responsibility for accuracy and integrity of all aspects of research.

All of the four criteria should be met for authorship. If only some of the above are met, acknowledgement of contributions is appropriate recognition..

Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors (ICMJE)

  • Why Authorship Matters
  • Who Is an Author?
  • Non-Author Contributors

UIUC Campus Resources

Other Sources

From the Council of Science Editors, this guidance to authorship includes common principles and guidelines and addresses common ethical issues related to Authorship.

This guide from the University of North Dakota provide excellent background and guidance regarding authorship.

Infographic from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The Faculty Council of Harvard Medical School has endorsed the following statement. Although authorship practices differ from one setting to another, and individual situations often require judgment, variation in practices should be within these basic guidelines.

Teixeira da Silva, J.A. (2011), The ethics of collaborative authorship. EMBO reports, 12: 889-893. https://doi.org/10.1038/embor.2011.161

This site was produced by the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching & Learning (CCNMTL) in collaboration with the Columbia University Office for Responsible Conduct of Research. This Responsible Authorship and Peer Review module in the Responsible Conduct of Research series was authored by Robin Eisner, Daniel Vasgird and Ellen Hyman-Browne.

Select Publisher Author Requirements