II.A Authorship and Contributorship
II.A.1. Byline Authors
An “author” is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive
intellectual contributions to a published study, and biomedical authorship
continues to have important academic, social, and financial implications. (1) In
the past, readers were rarely provided with information about contributions to studies
from those listed as authors and in acknowledgments. (2) Some journals now request
and publish information about the contributions of each person named as having
participated in a submitted study, at least for original research. Editors are strongly
encouraged to develop and implement a contributorship policy, as well as a policy on
identifying who is responsible for the integrity of the work as a whole. While
contributorship and guarantorship policies obviously remove much of the ambiguity
surrounding contributions, it leaves unresolved the question of the quantity and quality
of contribution that qualify for authorship. The International Committee of Medical
Journal Editors has recommended the following criteria for authorship; these criteria
are still appropriate for those journals that distinguish authors from other contributors.
• Authorship credit should be based on
1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or
analysis and interpretation of data;
2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and
3) final approval of the version to be published.
Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.
• When a large, multi-center group has conducted the work, the group should identify
the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript (3). These
individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship defined above and editors will
ask these individuals to complete journal-specific author and conflict of interest
disclosure forms. When submitting a group author manuscript, the corresponding
author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and should clearly identify all
individual authors as well as the group name. Journals will generally list other
members of the group in the acknowledgements. The National Library of Medicine
indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as
being directly responsible for the manuscript.
• Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research
group, alone, does not justify authorship.
• All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who
qualify should be listed.
• Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public
responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. Some journals now also
request that one or more authors, referred to as “guarantors,” be identified as
the persons who take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole,
from inception to published article, and publish that information. Increasingly,
authorship of multi-center trials is attributed to a group. All members of the group who
are named as authors should fully meet the above criteria for authorship. The order of
authorship on the byline should be a joint decision of the coauthors. Authors should
be prepared to explain the order in which authors are listed.