A quick guide to scientific authorship

There is currently some misunderstanding on what is and what isn’t an author contribution in a research report. But, fear thou not: this is a comprehensive list after the ICMJE authorship attribution guidelines of what actually authoring a paper is for when you are preparing your submission documentation.

Liliane Lins (Evidence Scientific Integrity & Reproducibility Editor)

There is currently some misunderstanding on what is and what isn’t an author contribution in a research report. But, fear thou not: this is a comprehensive list after the ICMJE authorship attribution guidelines of what actually authoring a paper is for when you are preparing your submission documentation.

First and foremost, it is very important to take notice that, in matters of authorship, it is not enough to be: the head of the laboratory, the director of the outpatient clinic, the research funder or the people who have collected data.

Substantial scientific contributions are what matter!

To be considered an author in a scientific paper, one’s role in a research experiment and report must match at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Designing of the research or the acquisition or analysis of the data;
  2. Drafting the paper or critically revising the paper;
  3. Final approval of the version to be published (which is actually a critical revision as well).

Paper translation and submission, and data acquisition in itself are not author contributions because they do not actually add scientific content to the paper.

For further information, please refer to the ICMJE entry on defining the role of authors and contributors.

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