Guidelines for Authorship

Authorship is a specific means to give credit for intellectual work and should reflect actual contributions made to the final publication.  Authorship is of fundamental importance to the academic reputation, promotion/tenure, and grant support of individuals and also reflects back on the quality and reputation of the academic institution.  For this reason, the VMS Research Committee feels it is critical to put in place guidelines for authorship for our department.  It is acknowledged that there have been substantially different “traditions” of assigning authorship in our department, so these guidelines are intended to streamline recommended principles of authorship and to clarify the expectations of involved parties.

An author is defined as an individual who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study.  Based on guidelines created by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, authorship implies each of the following criteria is met:

  •  Substantial contributions to study conception and design, acquisition of data or analysis and interpretation of data
  • Critical review of the manuscript for intellectual content, which can include drafting the manuscript or revising drafts of the manuscript
  • Final approval of the version of the manuscript for publication

All individuals who meet these criteria should be considered an author; all those who have made other substantial contributions should be acknowledged.  Honorary or courtesy authorships do not fit these guidelines and are considered unacceptable.

It is the responsibility of the primary/corresponding author to ensure the coauthors meet these criteria.  A “guarantor” is defined as the individual who takes responsibility for the integrity of the work as whole and is frequently the corresponding author.

The following are NOT criteria which by themselves should be considered sufficient for authorship:

  • Being on resident or graduate committee
  • Financial contribution
  • Provision of supplies, technical services or clinical patients
  • Providing clinic coverage so resident/graduate students can perform the work
  • Being a paid employee who works on project
  • Statisticians (fee for service)

Communication of responsibilities and expectations for authorship should be done at the earliest stage possible for collaborative studies.  This includes deciding who will be an author versus acknowledged as a contributor; what will be the order of authorship; and what are the responsibilities and expectations for each author.  It is ideal to designate one individual as the guarantor; this individual should not be a trainee.

These guidelines are adapted from authorship principles provided by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and from Harvard University and Duke University.