How-Tos

Avoid Authorship Disputes

December 17, 2009

Adhering to the following guidelines will help to prevent situations that may lead to new authorship disputes:

  1. Discuss Proactively

There should be early discussions of who will be an author and the possible order of authors. Criteria for authorship should be discussed before beginning to prepare a manuscript, and possibly even before starting a project.

Each party should have an understanding of what kind of work merits authorship, with the knowledge that, as the research project progresses, who is an author and the position of a name in a list of authors may change. Each party should also have an understanding of who among many authors will have primary responsibility for the writing, submission, and editing work required for a paper. This can be extremely important when a project involves collaborations between labs.

  1. Be Consistent

Determination of authorship and authorship order should be consistent, both within the research group and with the norms for the field.

  1. Understand the Rules

All authors should be aware of institutional and journal-specific policies and guidelines regarding authorship. All Washington University authors should review and follow the institution’s Policy for Authorship on Scientific and Scholarly Publications​.

  1. Communicate

The criteria for authorship should be discussed and agreed upon in writing as part of the initial planning process for the research project.

As the project and/or the manuscript evolves, authorship should be revisited as needed. There should be discussion and agreement as to the critical elements/data that will be included in the publication.