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Joint Research Management Office

Guidelines on authorship for researchers at Queen Mary

The publication of research often involves collaborations between researchers.  Publication credits are crucial to academic careers.  However, authorship can be a contentious issue leading to disputes.  To avoid dispute, the University provides guidance below for determining and accounting for authorship.  These are intended to be applied broadly given the discipline-specific differences between publication practices. 

What counts as authorship?

‘Authorship’ is widely understood to be a significant intellectual contribution to a work of research.  This might take one, or more, of the following forms:

  • Project design
  • Interpretation of data
  • Drafting and revision of the research paper
  • Data-collection
  • Literature review

How might authorship be accounted for?

  • All who make a substantial intellectual contribution should be listed as an author.
  • The order in which authors are listed, if applicable, might reflect the extent of their contribution rather than their seniority.
  • The University recommends that decisions about authorship are agreed upon by all contributors at an early stage in the project.

Corresponding authors should ensure the following:

  • All listed as authors have explicitly consented to the submission of the paper having reviewed it.
  • All listed as authors have consented to take collective responsibility for the overall integrity of the research. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.
  • The contributions of others that do not amount to authorship, are acknowledged appropriately. This should reflect the extent of their involvement in the project.

In accordance with the Research Excellence Framework (REF) panel criteria and working methods guidance, the University advises the following:

  • The lead and corresponding authors should be easily identifiable in the publication where possible.
  • The contributions of authors should be verifiable in case they are required for audit purposes. These might pertain to study design, data collection, or analysis.

Additional resources:

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