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Dissemination of the findings of research and scholarship through high quality publications is central to the University’s mission. Appropriate recognition of authorship is an important element of a publication, reflecting both credit and responsibility for the work. However, it is widely agreed that there is no universally accepted norm for assigning authorship on a publication. There are disciplinary differences in authorship conventions, and author position on publications has specific and different meanings in different fields. In order to address these differences and to allay any possible future issues, researchers should initiate discussions on authorship at an early stage in the research project and regularly review this as the project progresses. There are a number of resources available, which can help to guide these discussions.


UCD Authorship Policy

UCD has an approved  (opens in a new window)Authorship Policy. This policy states “An author must have made substantial intellectual contributions to the document, including all of the following four elements:

  1. Planning and Execution: contributing significantly to the conception, design and/or execution of the work, and / or the analysis or interpretation of data; and
  2. Writing: drafting, reviewing and/or revising the intellectual content of the manuscript; and
  3. Approval: approving the manuscript to be published; and
  4. Accountability: addressing any questions that arise, either before or after publication, around the accuracy or integrity of those aspects of the work for which the author is responsible.”

Contributor Role Taxonomy (CRediT)

The CRediT method of (opens in a new window)Contributor Role Taxonomy has been widely adopted across a range of publishers. CRediT was introduced with the intention of recognising individual author contributions, reducing authorship disputes and facilitation collaboration.“CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy) is high-level taxonomy, including 14 roles, that can be used to represent the roles typically played by contributors to scientific scholarly output. The roles describe each contributor’s specific contribution to the scholarly output.”  A handy guide to the contributor roles definitions can be found here:  CRediT_Role_Definition [PDF]

Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

The (opens in a new window)Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) provides advice to publishers and editors on publication ethics and has produced a list of Core Practices for all involved in publishing scholarly literature: editors and their journals, publishers and institutions. They have guidelines on handling authorship and a large number of freely-available, searchable (opens in a new window)case studies on their website, outlining issues of authorship and contribution. COPE has also published (opens in a new window)Retraction Guidelines for advice and guidance for editors.

Advice on Avoiding/Minimising Authorship disputes (from (opens in a new window)IWSCA, 2012)

Authorship disputes can have serious repercussions for all those involved. The International Workshop on Contributorship and Scholarly Attribution provided some guidance on avoiding or minimising authorship disputes as per below. Adoption of this by research groups and those involved in collaborative projects would help avoid misunderstandings and disputes, and so the potential negative consequences that go with them.

  1. Have a clear authorship/contributorship policy.
  2. Discuss and document individual contributor roles and provisional authorship early on, ideally at the start of the project before work begins.
  3. Review contributions as the work progresses, revise roles and authorship accordingly until journal submission.
  4. Keep a descriptive authorship contribution list.
  5. Document the reasons for author/contributor additions and deletions, and get agreement for changes from all individuals.
  6. Make sure all authors/contributors see and approve the final manuscript.

Expectations of the role of Corresponding Author (adapted from (opens in a new window)McNutt et al., 2018)

The Corresponding Author is responsible for the following:

  1. Ensuring that all listed authors have approved the manuscript before submission and that all authors receive the submission and all substantive correspondence with editors, as well as the full reviews.
  2. 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.
  3. Ensuring that the entire author group is fully aware of and in compliance with best practices in the discipline of publication.
  4. Revealing as appropriate whether the manuscript benefited from the use of editorial services that, if unacknowledged, might constitute an undisclosed conflict of interest.
  5. Indicating whether any authors on earlier versions have been removed or new authors added and why.
  6. Ensuring 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 manuscript 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.

Authorship Visualisation (from (opens in a new window)Tay, 2021)

Researchers have been experimenting with different ways of visually representing authorship contribution. For example, simple matrices can be devised, which gives credit to the different authors for their contribution to specific aspects of the project, such as conceptualisation, writing, software development or data collection etc. ((opens in a new window)Tay, 2021)

Useful References

Albert, Tim and Elizabeth Wager (Committee on Publication Ethics), (opens in a new window)How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers(2003)

Marcia K. McNutt, Monica Bradford, Jeffrey M. Drazen, Brooks Hanson, Bob Howard, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Véronique Kiermer, Emilie Marcus,  Barbara Kline Pope,  Randy Schekman, Sowmya Swaminathan, Peter J. Stang, and Inder M. Verma. (opens in a new window)Transparency in authors’ contributions and responsibilities to promote integrity in scientific publication.  PNAS March 13, 2018 115 (11) 2557-2560,  (opens in a new window)https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1715374115This paper details the responsibilities of the Corresponding Author.

Tay, Andy.  (opens in a new window)Researchers are embracing visual tools to give fair credit for work on papers. Nature Index 22 January 2021

Contact UCD Research Integrity Officer (RIO)

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: rio@ucd.ie