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Research and Sponsored Programs

East Tennessee State University

Determination of Authorship

Research and scholarly activity as evidenced by publication of original work is a major area in which faculty, staff and students are evaluated for appointment, awards, admission to programs, promotion, tenure and research funding, the criteria used to determine authorship are of significant concern. Authorship identifies those individuals who deserve primary credit and hold principal responsibility for a published work. Note that both credit and responsibility come with authorship. Your name on a paper entails in both the ethical and legal sense that you have made a significant contribution to the work described, understand it thoroughly and attest that the information is based on original research and, if it is research, is not based on fabricated or falsified data.

This Guide is intended to apply to all types of scholarly writing, including articles, abstracts, presentations at professional meetings, grant applications, authorship of theoretical papers, review papers, case histories, book chapters, and books. The journal, publishing house, or professional society sponsoring a presentation may have specific requirements.

Generally qualification to be included as an author should be based on meeting the following criteria:

  1. An author has substantially contributed to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
  2. An author participates in drafting the article or revises it critically for important intellectual content;
  3. An author approves final version to be published;
  4. An author has agreed to be named as an author.

Acquisition of funding, collection of data or general supervision of the research group, in the absence of any of the above, does not justify authorship.

All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.

Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.

The order of authorship on the byline should be a joint decision of the co-authors. Presumably, authors would be able to explain the order in which authors are listed, if asked.

These guidelines do not address disputes regarding the order of authorship. Only the co-authors can make informed judgments regarding authorship. If authorship disputes arise and fail to be resolved, it is recommended that the chair or head of the department(s) be consulted in an effort to resolve the dispute. If disputes are still unresolved, the relevant dean(s) and possibly faculty groups such as the Academic Freedom and Faculty Ethics Standing Committee, or the Vice Provost for Research should be consulted. Authorship disputes are not considered to constitute research misconduct and are not explicitly discussed in the ETSU Misconduct in Scholarship and Research policy.


The above material is based upon the following:

Authorship Task Force (2000): Is it time to update the tradition of authorship in scientific publications? Council of Science Editors (formerly Council of Biology Editors):

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals":

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