We follow the four criteria:
• Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
• Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
• Final approval of the version to be published; AND
• Agreement 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.
In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work he or she has done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.
We include only one corresponding author per article. Any further contribution details (eg, equal contribution) must be included in the contributors or acknowledgement sections at the end of the article.
Our Journal requires that all those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. We recognise only natural persons as authors. These authorship criteria are intended to reserve the status of authorship for those who deserve credit and can take responsibility for the work. The criteria are not intended for use as a means to disqualify colleagues from authorship who otherwise meet authorship criteria by denying them the opportunity to meet criterion #s 2 or 3. Therefore, all individuals who meet the first criterion should have the opportunity to participate in the review, drafting, and final approval of the manuscript.
The individuals who conduct the work are responsible for identifying who meets these criteria and ideally should do so when planning the work, making modifications as appropriate as the work progresses. The corresponding author takes primary responsibility for communication with the journal during the manuscript submission, peer review, and publication process, and typically ensures that all the journal’s administrative requirements, such as providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation, and gathering conflict of interest forms and statements, are properly completed, although these duties may be delegated to one or more coauthors.
When a large multi-author group has conducted the work, the group ideally should decide who will be an author before the work is started and confirm who is an author before submitting the manuscript for publication. All members of the group named as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, including approval of the final manuscript, and they should be able to take public responsibility for the work and should have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the work of other group authors. They will also be expected as individuals to complete conflict-of-interest disclosure forms.
At out Journal we want authors to assure us that all authors included on a paper fulfil the criteria of authorship. In addition we want assurance that there is no one else who fulfils the criteria but has not been included as an author.
When we encounter disagreements among authors we follow guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)—see here and here.
Our Journal lists contributors in two ways. Firstly, we publish a list of authors' names at the beginning of the paper and, secondly, we list contributors (some of whom may not be included as authors) at the end of the paper, giving details of who did what in planning, conducting, and reporting the work. This is a good place to include contributions by patients or members of the public who have assisted as research volunteers, giving their names and specific roles. We encourage authors to fully acknowledge the contribution of patients and the public to their research where appropriate.
One or more of these contributors are listed as guarantors of the paper. The guarantor accepts full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.
Contributorship and guarantorship are concepts that were applied first to original research papers, and are sometimes hard to define for other articles. Each contributorship statement should make clear who has contributed what to the planning, conduct, and reporting of the work described in the article, and should identify one, or occasionally more, contributor(s) as being responsible for the overall content as guarantor(s). For articles in our Journal that do not report original research - such as editorials, clinical reviews, and education and debate - please state who had the idea for the article, who performed the literature search, who wrote the article, and who is the guarantor (the contributor who accepts full responsibility for the finished article, had access to any data, and controlled the decision to publish). For non-research articles that include case reports such as lessons of the week, drug points, and interactive case reports, please also state who identified and/or managed the case(s).
Researchers must determine among themselves the precise nature of each person's contribution, and we encourage open discussion among all participants.
Alteration to authorship or contributorship
Any change in authors and/or contributors after initial submission must be approved by all authors. This applies to additions, deletions, change of order to the authors, or contributions being attributed differently. Any alterations must be explained to the editor. The editor may contact any of the authors and/or contributors to ascertain whether they have agreed to any alteration.