Authorship has important academic, social, and financial implications. Authorship is designed to provide appropriate credit for intellectual contributions. Assigning authorship and to decide authorship order is not an easy task. It can sometimes produce disturbing disputes. How can you avoid such disputes?
1. Acquaint yourself with the ICMJE and COPE Authorship Guidelines
The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:
- 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.
2. Early discussion with co-authors about authorship and authorship order
All the authors of a manuscript should discuss and finalize the authorship order before writing a manuscript and, if possible, even before starting a study.
3. Share contributions
Ask everyone to share his/her contributions. This can bring out misunderstandings and provides the opportunity for clarification.
4. Resolve the dispute locally
In case of a disagreement, make every effort to resolve the dispute locally by involving the department head or other senior appropriate person.