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Authorship guidelines and ethical standards

As there are significant differences in publication practice between disciplines, there are no universally accepted standards for assigning authorship. Unfortunately, concerns and disputes about who should be the authors of a publication arise quite often, which has resulted in the widely accepted and general Vancouver recommendations.

The Vancouver recommendations

The Vancouver recommendations include defining the role of authors, contributors and non-author contributors. They also cover responsibilities in the submission and peer-review process, conflicts of interest/competing interests, protection of research participants, etc.

The Vancouver recommendations define an author of a scientific publication as a person who has:

  • Contributed substantially to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and
  • Drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; and made a final approval of the version to be published; and
  • Agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

For more information on publication ethics, we recommend consulting with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). For handling authorship disputes, explore Authorship and contributorship.