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Authorship vs. Acknowledgment

Utilizing clear authorship criteria and discussing authorship with colleagues before and while work is performed can help avoid disputes. A vast majority of academic journals rely on the following guidelines to determine authorship. An author:

  1.  Provides substantial contributions to the experimental conception or design of the work, or the acquisition and analysis/interpretation of data; AND
  2.  Drafts or critically revises the work and approves of the work to be published; AND
  3.  Agrees to be accountable for the accuracy and integrity of the work. An author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work and have confidence in the integrity of those contributions.

Individuals who meet the first criterion should have the opportunity to participate in #2 and 3.

What if contributors meet fewer than all of the above criteria for authorship?

Contributors who do not meet all criteria should be acknowledged and their contribution specified instead of listed as authors. Generally, contributions from service centers or fee-for-service cores fall under acknowledgement. However, if special or additional expertise is provided beyond the normal scope of business such that criterion #1 is met, expectations should be discussed. Centers are encouraged to have authorship policies.

Who is responsible for determining authorship?

The individuals conducting the work. Journal editors do not arbitrate authorship conflict; nor do authorship disputes represent research misconduct or a questionable research practice. It is the collective responsibility of the authors to ensure criteria are met.


Be sure to check the authorship policy of individual journals. The following links may also be helpful.