In keeping with the growing movement in scientific publishing toward transparency in data and methods, the authorship policies and procedures provide insight into which author is responsible for which contributions, better assurance that the list is complete, and clearly articulated standards to justify earning authorship credit.

Authorship provides credit and bears responsibility for a researcher’s contribution to a study. Authors are expected to meet the criteria listed below which is adopted from Marcia K. McNutt, Proceeding of National Academy of Sciences, published online February 27, 2018, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1715374115, Open Access Article is distributed under licensed under CC-BY-4.0, Published online February 27, 2018|March 13, 2018|vol. 115|no. 11|2557–2560PERSPECTIVE.

Each author is expected to have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; or have drafted the work or substantively revised it; AND to have approved the submitted version (and any substantially modified version that involves the author’s contribution to the study); AND to have agreed both to be personally accountable for the author’s own contributions and to ensure that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work, even ones in which the author was not personally involved, are appropriately investigated, resolved, and the resolution documented in the literature.

The notion of authorship implies both credit and accountability. However, authorship conventions vary across disciplines, across cultures internationally, and even between research groups and laboratories in the same discipline. The various conventions differ in their expectations of what effort earns authorship, what the order of authorship signifies (if anything), how much accountability for the research the corresponding author (s) assumes, and the extent to which authors are accountable for aspects of the work that they did not personally conduct. We propose an actionable plan that consists of a set of journal policies to remove ambiguity in expectation for authors and ongoing university stakeholder meetings for managing the cultural and disciplinary variability in deciding who has earned authorship.

The corresponding author (s) should be responsible for managing these requirements across the author group and ensuring that the entire author group is fully aware of and in compliance with best practices in the discipline of publication. To discourage ghost authorship, corresponding author (s) must reveal as appropriate whether the article benefited from the use of editorial services that, if unacknowledged, might constitute an undisclosed conflict of interest. Examples include use of an editor from an organization that may have a vested interest in slanting the results or reliance on a technical writer at a level that would warrant authorship credit. These situations might variously be addressed by including a statement in the acknowledgments, by describing the effort in the methods section, or by adding an author. It is incumbent on the corresponding author (s) to ensure that all authors (or group/laboratory leaders in large collaborations) have certified the author list and contribution description: that all authors who deserve to be credited on the article are indeed identified, that no authors are listed who do not deserve authorship credit, and that author contributions, where they are provided, are expressed accurately.

Detrimental Authorship Practice Definition Proposed Solutions
Ghost Authorship Authors who contributed to the work but are not listed, generally to hide a conflict of interest from editors, reviewers, and readers. Corresponding author (s) must confirm that all who deserve authorship are listed; conflict of interest declarations; ethics training in collaboration with universities/research institutions.
Guest/Gift/Honorific Authorship Individuals given authorship credit who have not contributed in any substantive way to the research but are added to the author list by virtue of their stature in the organization. Journals require each author to have a transparent, identified, legitimate role in the research.
Orphan Authorship Authors who contributed materially to the work but are omitted from the author list unfairly by the drafting team. Corresponding author (s) must confirm that all who deserve authorship are listed; ethics training in collaboration with universities/research institutions.
Forged Authorship Unwitting authors who had no part in the work but whose names are appended to the article without their knowledge to increase the likelihood of publication. Journal contacts all authors to confirm they acknowledge their contribution to the work.

It is expecting that the corresponding author (and on multi-group collaborations, at least one member of each collaborating group, usually the most senior member of each submitting group or team, who accepts responsibility for the contributions to the article from that team) will be responsible for the following with respect to data, code and materials: (adopted from McNutt et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb 2018, 201715374; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1715374115; licensed under CC BY 4.0):

  1. ensuring that all listed authors have approved the article before submission and that all authors receive the submission and all substantive correspondence with editors, as well as the full reviews, verifying that all data, materials (including reagents), and code, even those developed or provided by other authors, comply with the transparency and reproducibility standards of both the field and journal.
  2. ensuring that original data/materials/code upon which the submission is based are preserved following best practices in the field so that they are retrievable for reanalysis.
  3. confirming that data/materials/code presentation accurately reflects the original.
  4. foreseeing and minimizing obstacles to the sharing of data/materials/code described in the work.

Publication is the final stage of research and therefore a responsibility for all researchers. Scholarly publications are expected to provide a detailed and permanent record of research. Because publications form the basis for both new research and the application of findings, they can affect not only the research community but also, indirectly, society at large. Researchers therefore have a responsibility to ensure that their publications are honest, clear, accurate, complete and balanced, and should avoid misleading, selective or ambiguous reporting (adopted from Wager E & Kleinerts (2011) Responsible research publication: international standards for authors. A position statement developed at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity, Singapore, July 22-24, 2010. Chapter 50 in: Mayer T & Steneck N (eds) Promoting Research Integrity in a Global Environment. Imperial College Press/World Scientific Publishing, Singapore (pp 309-16). (ISBN 978-981-4340-97-7):

  1. The research being reported should have been conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and should comply with all relevant legislation.
  2. Authors should present their results clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification or inappropriate data manipulation.
  3. Authors should strive to describe their methods clearly and unambiguously so that their findings can be confirmed by others.
  4. Authors should adhere to publication requirements that submitted work is original, is not plagiarized, and has not been published elsewhere.
  5. Authors should take collective responsibility for submitted and published work.
  6. The authorship of research publications should accurately reflect individuals’ contributions to the work and its reporting.
  7. Funding sources and relevant conflicts of interest should be disclosed.

At submission, the corresponding author (s) must include written permission from the authors of the work concerned for mention of any unpublished material cited in the article (for example others’ data, in press articles, personal communications or work in preparation). The corresponding author (s) also must clearly identify at submission any material within the article (such as figures) that has been published previously elsewhere and provide written permission from authors of the prior work and/or publishers, as appropriate, for the re-use of such material.

After acceptance, the corresponding author (s) is responsible for the accuracy of all content in the proof, including the names of co-authors, addresses and affiliations.

After publication, the corresponding author (s) is the point of contact for queries about the published article. It is their responsibility to inform all co-authors of any matters arising in relation to the published article and to ensure such matters are dealt with promptly. Authors of published material have a responsibility to inform the journal immediately if they become aware of any aspects that require correction.

Any changes to the author list after submission, such as a change in the order of the authors or the deletion or addition of authors, must be approved by every author. Journal editors are not in a position to investigate or adjudicate authorship disputes before or after publication. Such disagreements, if they cannot be resolved amongst authors, should be directed to the relevant institutional authority.

The primary affiliation for each author should be the institution where the majority of their work was done. If an author has subsequently moved, the current address may also be stated. The journal remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Global Code of Conduct for Authorship:
The authors should follow the recommendations set out in the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings when designing, executing and reporting their research and to bestow a disclosure statement in their article that covers the aspects listed below (drawn from the Global Code of Conduct):

  1. Fairness:
    1. Local relevance of research is essential and should be determined in collaboration with local partners. Research that is not relevant in the location where it is undertaken imposes burdens without benefits.
    2. Local communities and research participants should be included throughout the research process, wherever possible, from planning through to post-study feedback and evaluation, to ensure that their perspectives are fairly represented. This approach represents Good Participatory Practice.
    3. Feedback about the findings of the research must be given to local communities and research participants. It should be provided in a way that is meaningful, appropriate and readily comprehended.
    4. Local researchers should be included, wherever possible, throughout the research process, including in study design, study implementation, data ownership, intellectual property and authorship of publications.
    5. Access by researchers to any biological or agricultural resources, human biological materials, traditional knowledge, cultural artefacts or non-renewable resources such as minerals should be subject to the free and prior informed consent of the owners or custodians. Formal agreements should govern the transfer of any material or knowledge to researchers, on terms that are co-developed with resource custodians or knowledge holders.
    6. Any research that uses biological materials and associated information such as traditional knowledge or genetic sequence data should clarify to participants the potential monetary and non-monetary benefits that might arise. A culturally appropriate plan to share benefits should be agreed to by all relevant stakeholders, and reviewed regularly as the research evolves. Researchers from high-income settings need to be aware of the power and resource differentials in benefit-sharing discussions, with sustained efforts to bring lower-capacity parties into the dialogue.
    7. It is essential to compensate local research support systems, for instance translators, interpreters or local coordinators, fairly for their contribution to research projects.
  2. Respect:
    1. Potential cultural sensitivities should be explored in advance of research with local communities, research participants and local researchers to avoid violating customary practices. Research is a voluntary exercise for research participants. It is not a mission-driven exercise to impose different ethical values. If researchers from high-income settings cannot agree on a way of undertaking the research that is acceptable to local stakeholders, it should not take place.
    2. Community assent should be obtained through recognized local structures, if required locally. While individual consent must not be compromised, assent from the community may be an ethical prerequisite and a sign of respect for the entire community. It is the responsibility of the researcher to find out local requirements.
    3. Local ethics review should be sought wherever possible. It is of vital importance that research projects are approved by a research ethics committee in the host country, wherever this exists, even if ethics approval has already been obtained in the high-income setting.
    4. Researchers from high-income settings should show respect to host country research ethics committees.
  3. Care:
    1. Informed consent procedures should be tailored to local requirements to achieve genuine understanding and well-founded decision-making.
    2. A clear procedure for feedback, complaints or allegations of misconduct must be offered that gives genuine and appropriate access to all research participants and local partners to express any concerns they may have with the research process. This procedure must be agreed with local partners at the outset of the research.
    3. Research that would be severely restricted or prohibited in a high-income setting should not be carried out in a lower-income setting. Exceptions might be permissible in the context of specific local conditions (e.g. diseases not prevalent in high-income countries). If and when such exceptions are dealt with, the internationally acknowledged compliance commandment “comply or explain” must be used, i.e. exceptions agreed upon by the local stakeholders and researchers must be explicitly and transparently justified and made easily accessible to interested parties.
    4. Where research involvement could lead to stigmatization (e.g. research on sexually transmitted diseases), incrimination (e.g. sex work), discrimination or indeterminate personal risk (e.g. research on political beliefs), special measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of research participants need to be agreed with local partners.
    5. Ahead of the research it should be determined whether local resources will be depleted to provide staff or other resources for the new project (e.g. nurses or laboratory staff). If so, the implications should be discussed in detail with local communities, partners and authorities and monitored during the study.
    6. In situations where animal welfare regulations are inadequate or non-existent in the local setting compared with the country of origin of the researcher, animal experimentation should always be undertaken in line with the higher standards of protection for animals
    7. In situations where environmental protection and biorisk-related regulations are inadequate or non-existent in the local setting compared with the country of origin of the researcher, research should always be undertaken in line with the higher standards of environmental protection.
    8. Where research may involve health, safety or security risks for researchers or expose researchers to conflicts of conscience, tailored risk management plans should be agreed in advance of the research between the research team, local partners and employers.
  4. Honesty:
    1. A clear understanding should be reached among collaborators with regard to their roles, responsibilities and conduct throughout the research cycle, from study design through to study implementation, review and dissemination. Capacity-building plans for local researchers should be part of these discussions.
    2. Lower educational standards, illiteracy or language barriers can never be an excuse for hiding information or providing it incompletely. Information must always be presented honestly and as clearly as possible. Plain language and a non-patronizing style in the appropriate local languages should be adopted in communication with research participants who may have difficulties comprehending the research process and requirements.
    3. Corruption and bribery of any kind cannot be accepted or supported by researchers from any countries.
    4. Lower local data protection standards or compliance procedures can never be an excuse to tolerate the potential for privacy breaches. Special attention must be paid to research participants who are at risk of stigmatization, discrimination or incrimination through the research participation.

Group Authorship:
A group of authors can be listed as a group. If necessary, individual authors may be listed in the main author list and as members of the group. All authors of the group should be listed at the end of the article. If there is a need to include a list of group members who did not directly contribute to the article, this list may be placed in Supplementary Information. To facilitate the submission of articles with large author lists, please consult with the journal editor prior to submission.

Author Contribution Declaration:
Authors are required to include a declaration of accountability in the article, counting review-type articles, that stipulates the involvement of each author. The level of detail differs; Some subjects yield articles that consist of isolated efforts that are easily voiced in detail, while other areas function as group efforts at all stages.

Author Identification:
All authors ensure that they have provided ORCID ID (Open Researcher and Contributor Identifier (ORCID). If an author does not have an Orcid ID, he/she can create one.

Author Name Change:
In cases where authors wish to change their name following publication, journal will update and republish the article and redeliver the updated metadata to indexing services. The editorial and publishing teams will use discretion in recognizing that name changes may be of a sensitive and private nature for various reasons including (but not limited to) alignment with gender identity, or as a result of marriage, divorce, or religious conversion. Accordingly, to protect the author’s privacy, journal will not publish a correction notice to the article and will not notify co-authors of the change. Authors should contact the journal’s Editorial Office with their name change request.