Agree on authorship

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has useful guidance, relevant not just to medical papers: ICMJE | Recommendations | Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors.

According to ICMJE, authorship should be based on:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Research in many disciplines is highly collaborative and includes teams of researchers significantly contributing to the paper. To formally recognise different types of contributions, journals adopt the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) to recognise individual contributions, reduce authorship disputes and facilitate collaboration. Noteworthy, due to ongoing discussion, journals are adopting changes differently. Some keep authorship but declare contributions according to CRediT, some have switched to the contributorship model, and some combine authorship and contributorship models. Therefore, it is important to read carefully the journal’s instructions on authorship and/or contributorship.

Authorship should be agreed before you start writing and confirmed before manuscript submission.

Disputes about authorship during submission and publication stages may delay or even prevent the publication of your article, so be sure every author is appropriately acknowledged and only legitimate authors are included.

Following the introduction of large language models, such as ChatGPT, most major publishers have issued guidelines regarding their use to write academic papers. COPE has also issued a statement on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Generally, AI tools can be used to polish text and to create abstracts from completed manuscripts but they are not to be listed as authors or co-authors. Care should be taken when asking such models to suggest references, as there is some evidence that they provide references that do not exist.

To distinguish researchers and ensure accurate attribution of authorship or/and contributorship, Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) is increasingly being used by journals. It is a unique persistent digital identifier that can be connected to each of your professional activities and details, such as affiliations, grants, publications, peer review, without manual updating. You can register for free and use your ORCID to share information with other systems, ensuring you get recognition for all your contributions.