Academic authorship of journal articles, books, and other original works is a means by which academics communicate the results of their scholarly work, establish priority for their discoveries, and build their reputation among their peers.
Authorship is a primary basis that employers use to evaluate academic personnel for employment, promotion, and tenure. In academic publishing, authorship of a work is claimed by those making intellectual contributions to the completion of the research described in the work. In simple cases, a solitary scholar carries out a research project and writes the subsequent article or book. In many disciplines, however, collaboration is the norm and issues of authorship can be controversial. In these contexts, authorship can encompass activities other than writing the article; a researcher who comes up with an experimental design and analyzes the data may be considered an author, even if she or he had little role in composing the text describing the results. According to some standards, even writing the entire article would not constitute authorship unless the writer was also involved in at least one other phase of the project.
Guidelines for assigning authorship vary between institutions and disciplines. They may be formally defined or simply cultural custom. Incorrect application of authorship rules occasionally leads to charges of academic misconduct and sanctions for the violator. A 2002 survey of a large sample of researchers who had received funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health revealed that 10% of respondents claimed to have inappropriately assigned authorship credit within the last three years. This was the first large scale survey concerning such issues. In other fields only limited or no empirical data is available.
The natural sciences have no universal standard for authorship, but some major multi-disciplinary journals and institutions have established guidelines for work that they publish. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) has an editorial policy that specifies "authorship should be limited to those who have contributed substantially to the work" and furthermore, "authors are strongly encouraged to indicate their specific contributions" as a footnote. The American Chemical Society further specifies that authors are those who also "share responsibility and accountability for the results" and the U.S. National Academies specify "an author who is willing to take credit for a paper must also bear responsibility for its contents. Thus, unless a footnote or the text of the paper explicitly assigns responsibility for different parts of the paper to different authors, the authors whose names appear on a paper must share responsibility for all of it."
In mathematics, the authors are usually listed in alphabetical order (this is the so-called Hardy-Littlewood Rule). This usage is described in the "Information Statements on the Culture of Research and Scholarship in Mathematics" section of the American Mathematical Society website, specifically the 2004 statement: Joint Research and Its Publication.
In other branches of knowledge such as economics, business, finance or particle physics, it is also usual to sort the authors alphabetically.
The medical field defines authorship very narrowly. According to the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, designation as an author must satisfy four conditions. The author must have:
Acquisition of funding, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship. Biomedical authorship is prone to various misconducts and disputes. Many authors – especially those in the middle of the byline – do not fulfill these authorship criteria. Some medical journals have abandoned the strict notion of author, with the flexible notion of contributor.
Between about 1980-2010 the average number of authors in medical papers increased, and perhaps tripled.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has similar guidelines as medicine for authorship. The APA acknowledge that authorship is not limited to the writing of manuscripts, but must include those who have made substantial contributions to a study such as "formulating the problem or hypothesis, structuring the experimental design, organizing and conducting the statistical analysis, interpreting the results, or writing a major portion of the paper". While the APA guidelines list many other forms of contributions to a study that do not constitute authorship, it does state that combinations of these and other tasks may justify authorship. Like medicine, the APA considers institutional position, such as Department Chair, insufficient for attributing authorship.
Neither the Modern Languages Association nor the Chicago Manual of Style define requirements for authorship (because usually humanities works are single-authored and the author is responsible for the entire work).
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Authors to be listed in alphabetical order, all letters capitalized, principal author underlined.
Authors names in capital letters, in alphabetical order, principal author underlined.
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