Publication and Authorship

Authorship Determination

The following are example criteria in accordance with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and are included in the Office of Research’s Responsible Conduct of Research training as general guidelines for authorship determination for manuscripts (e.g., peer reviewed journal publications, books, conference proceedings, reviews, etc.):

  1. Substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data
  2. Drafting the article or reviewing it critically for important intellectual content
  3. Final approval of the version to be published
  4. Ability to explain and defend the study in public or scholarly settings

Authors should meet all of the above criteria.* A claim of authorship by persons who may have been associated in some way with a study but do not meet the four criteria may constitute an unethical research practice.

In all cases, authors should follow the generally accepted practices for their discipline in determining authorship credit, including the proper acknowledgement of affiliations and support, both foreign and/or domestic, and ensuring all sponsor guidelines are followed.

It is important to note that authorship disputes do not usually constitute research misconduct, and disputes over authorship use a different resolution process than allegations of misconduct. (See Washington State University’s Executive Policy #33, for more information.) When authorship disputes occur, the Office of Research follows the general model set forth in the WSU Faculty Manual (See II F. Disciplinary Process/Procedures (1)(5)).

Dispute resolution

WSU Faculty Manual: It is the overall goal of the University to resolve concerns or problems at the lowest possible level. To this end, prior to initiating a formal complaint with the Provost, individuals feeling aggrieved by a faculty member’s actions are encouraged to use the following resource for attempted resolution of disputes:

  • Supervisory chain of authority (e.g., the faculty member’s Dept. Chair, Dean).

For authorship disputes, the recommended chain is: corresponding author, principal investigator, publication committee (if applicable—these are typical for large scientific collaborations), project/collaboration manager (if applicable), department chair, associate dean in charge of research (or equivalent), and then dean.

Unresolved disputes

If authors are unable to reach a resolution using the guidelines provided above, the matter may be brought to the attention of the Office of Research.

Additional resources

* Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged. (For general guidance on this, see Section II.A.3, Non-Author Contributors, of the ICMJE Recommendations.) These criteria are not intended for use as a means to disqualify individuals from authorship who otherwise meet authorship criteria by denying them the opportunity to meet criterion #s 2 or 3.