Authorship is an unambiguous way of assigning responsibility and giving recognition for intellectual work. It is important to all members of the university research community, and especially to students, post-doctoral scholars, and faculty when being considered for annual reviews, promotion, and tenure. Methods of assigning authorship continue to evolve and are discipline specific. Given this diversity and the importance of authorship credit, authorship is an area of relatively frequent concern and dispute. Therefore, these guidelines were developed to address this important topic.
Journal and professional society customs and policies governing authorship and contributorship vary widely, but there are general principles that should be followed in assigning authorship and resolving authorship disputes. The following principles, relying upon the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine 2018 report Fostering Research Integrity, have been adopted by George Mason University and should be implemented in all academic writing.
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- Taking overall responsibility for the publication.
- Including as co-authors all and only those individuals who meet the authorship criteria specific to their discipline.
- Providing the draft of the manuscript to each individual contributing author for review and assent for authorship. The lead author should obtain from all coauthors their agreement to be designated as such and their assent of the content of the manuscript. A journal may have specific requirements governing author review and consent, which must be followed.
- The integrity of the work as a whole, and ensuring that reasonable care and effort has been taken to determine that all the data are complete, accurate, and reasonably interpreted.
- Understanding the publication and taking responsibility for it.
- Acknowledging that they meet the authorship criteria required by their disciplinary and publication/venue standards. A coauthor should have participated sufficiently in the work to take responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
- Acknowledging that they have reviewed and approved the manuscript.
- The content of all appropriate portions of the manuscript, including the integrity of any applicable research.
Sources: The National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, Washington University of Saint Louis, Duke University