Generally, an author is considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study. This includes anyone who:
- made a substantial contribution to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data for the work; and
- drafted or substantively reviewed or revised the publication; and
- approved the final version of the publication; 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 could be appropriately investigated and resolved.
The widely accepted International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines set a high standard. However there is great variation in practice among different disciplines and research fields, so no universal set of standards exists.
This places most of the responsibility for decisions about authorship on the researchers who conducted the research reported in the publication. These decisions are best made early in each project to avoid misunderstanding and later disputes.
Researchers should seek to publish their results in accordance with current best practice and funders' terms and conditions. They should ensure that they:
- use the most appropriate means to publish the results of their research, typically as papers in refereed journals
- comply with University policies and funder requirements in the dissemination of the results of research and, where appropriate, seek guidance and approval to report data to the media
- publish a coherent report of the work and do not report the data more than once (unless in a secondary analysis) or sub-divide the data (unless this was a predefined approach)
- analyse the data using appropriate methods of statistical analysis
- provide a summary of the work in layman’s terms and give appropriate feedback to everyone who took part in the study
- acknowledge and cite the work of others where appropriate, fully and accurately attributing relevant sources
- take steps to ensure the accuracy of the data reported and act immediately to correct any genuine errors or misunderstanding
- acknowledge the funding, support, sponsorship and other forms of input (including that of the University) to the work in an appropriate way
- give notice of intention to publish and seek approval, where appropriate, from all partner organisations
- openly declare all relevant interests
- not seek media exposure for research which has not been subject to peer review, unless sanctioned by all parties
- handle the release of research data which might have high and/or commercial impact with care and sensitivity, consulting the University and other partners as appropriate
Where the work has more than one author the researchers should also:
- agree the contribution each will make to reporting the work and review this commitment regularly as the work progresses
- appoint a lead or executive author for communication on the work
- report the work fairly according to each author’s contribution, and neither omit, underplay nor overplay a contributor's input
- comply with the definition of author and co-author given by the publication or by international organisations (eg International Committee of Medical Journal Editors)
- provide a formal offer of authorship (which should be accepted or declined in writing) to those meeting the agreed definitions
- maintain a file of all relevant signatures in case of disputes
Only staff or students of the collegiate University, or those who have a formal affiliation to the University or a College (or those who were University staff or students, or had a formal affiliation when the research in question was conducted), should state in any journal submission that they are affiliated to the University or a College.
Researchers should give priority to publishing in publications that employ rigorous standards of peer review.
When acting as peer reviewers, University members should declare all relevant interests as required in the University's conflict of interest policy.
New reviewers are advised to take any available training, follow the guidance provided (see Resources below), become familiar with good practice, and consult or discuss with colleagues as necessary. Where appropriate, reviewers should contribute comments that will be attributed.
All reviewers should:
- apply rigorous objectivity in all assessments
- complete the review in accordance with the guidance provided and on time
- respect the confidentiality of any information sent for review
- report any conflicting interests
- not allow vested interests or personal bias to influence their impartial assessment
- only accept assignments for which they have the expertise
- not take advantage of any new data, ideas or privileged information they have had access to during the review process, to further their own research and/or other activities
- conduct a fair assessment of the work and not deliberately disadvantage a competitor in the field
- review objectively work that challenges accepted views, crosses traditional boundaries and/or is wholly innovative
- be aware that the review may identify practice which falls below good conduct (which might be honest error or research misconduct) and which should be reported
If submitting work for peer review, researchers should:
- not take actions, directly or indirectly, to influence the review of their own work or that of others, positively or negatively
- accept comments and respond to the factual points made
- report any suspected infringement of the principles outlined above to the appropriate authority (eg journal editor, funder)
- discuss details with colleagues within the University before making any appeal
- Committee on Publication Ethics
- Council of Science Editors
- International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)
- Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research - Office of Research Integrity (US)
- UKRIO - Retractions in academic journals: guidance for researchers
- Peer Review (a guide for researchers) – Research Information Network
- Responsible authorship and peer review – Columbia University
- Peer review quick guide – US Office of Research Integrity