Assigning authorship to a paper confers credit to an individual for the work that they have done, and is a statement of responsibility for the work by those individuals. Authorship should be reserved for those, and only those, who have made significant intellectual contribution to the research. Honorary authorship1, ghost authorship2 or guest authorship3 are not acceptable.
It is an important part of good research practice to assign appropriate authorship. It is the responsibility of individuals involved in a study to determine who qualifies to be identified as author(s) or contributor(s), and not of the editor or publisher.
Dissertation and project Supervisors should be either named as (co-)authors in the byline or identified in the acknowledgements section, depending on the level of their supervisory input and advice and guidance provided. This should be agreed in advance with the relevant Supervisors. .
Where a paper is based on a dissertation written by one individual, they will be the primary and first author. Depending on the advice and guidance received from a dissertation Supervisor it would normally be appropriate for the Supervisor to be credited as a co-author or contributor in the acknowledgments section. If the latter, his/hers contribution should be explicitly stipulated e.g. “critically reviewed the study proposal”.
Where a paper is based on work carried out by a group, each member of the group should be listed if they meet the criteria, i.e. they have been actively involved in transforming the content into a format that is suitable for publication.
Where only some have agreed to be involved in writing up for publication a decision on whether the others in the group meet authorship criteria would need to be made. For example, do they still meet the criteria of authorship because of their contribution to data acquisition and presented analysis? This should be agreed by group members and in the event of disagreement, with the assistance of an academic supervisor.
Where other members of a group project are deemed not to have met the criteria they should be included in the acknowledgements, subject to their agreement.
If the research was carried out as part of the cross-boundary research, researchers should follow guidance provided in Montreal Statement on Research Integrity in Cross-Boundary Research Collaboration (2013).
Order of Authors
Where there are multiple individuals who qualify as authors, there should be agreement around the order the authors are listed.
Students should normally be the first author on any multi-authored paper based on their dissertation or thesis. Where there is more than one student involved, i.e. a group project, the order should reflect the level of contribution. If there is no difference then the order should be in alphabetical order with a note added to state equal contribution.
It is the responsibility of the authors to agree the order and not the journal or its editors. In the case of multi-authors it is the responsibility of the corresponding author to co-ordinate this and provide the journal with the necessary information. The corresponding author is the selected author who is responsible for the communication with the journal during the publication process.
Albert T. Wager E., How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers; available at http://publicationethics.org/files/u2/2003pdf12.pdf (Accessed 21 December 2016)
British Sociological Association, Authorship Guidelines; available at https://www.britsoc.co.uk/publications/guidelines-reports/authorship-guidelines/#_order (Accessed 21 December 2016)
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors; available at http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html (Accessed 21 December 2016)
University of Cambridge, Guidelines on Authorship; available at http://www.research-integrity.admin.cam.ac.uk/research-integrity/guidelines-authorship (Accessed 21 December 2016)
University of Oxford, Research Support, Publication and authorship; available at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/researchsupport/integrity/publication/ (Accessed 21 December 2016)
UKRIO, Publication and authorship; available at http://ukrio.org/publications/code-of-practice-for-research/3-0-standards-for-organisations-and-researchers/3-15-publication-and-authorship/ (Accessed 02 February 2017)
White Paper on Publication Ethics, CSE’s White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications, 2012 Update; available at https://www.councilscienceeditors.org/resource-library/editorial-policies/white-paper-on-publication-ethics/ (Accessed 21 December 2016)
1. Honorary or gift authorship is where someone’s name is added because of their position, for example a head of department, but who has not had any direct involvement in the work.
2. Ghost authorship is when someone did make significant contribution to the work but he or she has not been named as an author or a contributor.
3. Guest authorship is when someone did not make significant contribution to the work but he or she has been identified as an author with the expectation to enhance the perceived status of the work.