Authorship at Berkeley Lab
Authorship and contributorship is determined by the research participants in accordance with department/division guidelines and society/journal publications rules, and funding acknowledgement and author affiliations are required. It is highly advised to discuss authorship expectations in advance; even then, the course of the research and participant roles and responsibilities can change over time. Sometimes it is not possible to determine order of authorship at the outset of a collaboration. In these circumstances, collaborators can agree in advance on the criteria that will be used for making authorship decisions and the process by which those decisions will be made. Different communities of practice take different approaches. Most research journals have adapted the authorship criteria by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) listed below.
- Authorship credit should be based on:
- 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
- 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and
- 3) final approval of the version to be published.
- Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.
- When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript.
- These individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship/contributorship defined above, and editors will ask these individuals to complete journal-specific author and conflict-of-interest disclosure forms.
- When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and identify all individual authors as well as the group name.
- Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments.
- The NLM indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript; it also lists the names of collaborators if they are listed in Acknowledgments.
- Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.
- All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.
- Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
Credit and Sharing
Team science is a collaborative effort to address a scientific challenge that leverages the strengths and expertise of professionals, oftentimes trained in different fields. According to the NCI, Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide, of all the aspects of team science, sharing recognition and credit is among the most difficult to master. How credit is attributed can vary greatly from team to team, and the decision about how to share credit will impact all team members. The Field Guide has recommended the following on how to share credit:
- Build and maintain trust among team members
- See Chapter 05, Trust, page 50, to learn about how to foster trust among team members, the types of trust, and the four forms of trust.
- Assign or negotiate roles and responsibilities
- Unambiguously assign or negotiate roles and responsibilities for the various team members-this is especially important for team leaders.
- Make decisions either before work begins or as early as possible.
- Waiting until the paper is written and authorship discussed can jeopardize the work as well as relationships among team members. Establish as early as possible a process and criteria for determining how authorship and other forms of credit will be decided. This can be done in the form of Collaborative Agreements, Welcome Letters, or other types of documents. See Appendix, page 132, for templates.
- Create a credible process for concerns
- Create a credible process by which team members can raise concerns about how credit is being or will be determined as soon as questions arise.
- Who is responsible for answering questions and inquiries?
- Identify early on in your scientific relationship those who will be responsible for answering questions and responding to outside inquiries about various scientific aspects of the the project.
- Public Presentations
- In public presentations, identify team members and explicitly acknowledge their contributions to the research endeavor.
- Appropriately attribute all people who contribute to writing, performing experiments, or provide intellectual input.
Avoid research collaboration issues by discussing, in advance, overall goals, roles and responsibilities, and authorship/credit criteria for the collaboration.
Consider using a partnering agreement, such as this one from the Office of the NIH Ombudsman, which includes Best Practices for Improving Communication and Working Relationships between Scientists and sample, “Welcome to my Lab” letters. The Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide from NIH is also a great resource and includes topics such as creating a shared vision, building and sustaining trust, team evolution, handling conflict, and leadership.