RCR Part 4: Guidelines on Authorship


A person claiming authorship of a scholarly publication must have met all of the following criteria:

  1. Substantial participation in conception and design of the study, or in analysis and interpretation of data;
  2. Substantial participation in the drafting of the manuscript or in the substantive editing of the manuscript;
  3. Final approval of the version of the manuscript to be published;
  4. Ability to explain and defend the study in public or scholarly settings.

Note: these criteria follow closely those recommended by several professional associations. See especially the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Annals of Internal Medicine 1988; 108: 258-65.


Contributions that do not justify authorship should be acknowledged separately in the notes to the manuscript. These may include general supervision of a research group, assistance in obtaining funding, or technical support.

“Honorary" Authorship

It is unethical to assign authorship to persons who though, associated in some way with a study, do not meet the four criteria in item 1.

Graduate Student Authorship

Faculty are fully responsible for safeguarding the rights of graduate students to publish the results of their research.

Senior Author and Order of Authorship

The senior author is generally defined as the person who leads a study and makes a major contribution to the work. All the authors, at the outset of a project, should establish senior authorship, preferably in a written memorandum of understanding. This memorandum of understanding should acknowledge the authors’ agreement to abide by their department's and institution's policy on authorship. At the outset of the study, the senior author should discuss the outline of work and a tentative order of authorship with the study participants. As projects proceed, agreements regarding authorship may need to be changed. The senior author is responsible to assure that the contributions of study participants are properly recognized.