PREMIER Clarification of Authorship

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Scientific publications are the primary medium of reporting by scientists on their work. With a publication, an author (or group of authors) announces a scientific result, identifies with it and assumes responsibility for the content of the publication. At the same time, the author thereby acquires documented rights (copyright, copyright etc.). In connection with this, the date of publication has acquired a significant importance in the sense of documenting scientific priority; many journals report when a manuscript has been received and when it has been accepted (usually after review by reviewers).

Because of their great importance as proof of performance, publications or authorships are the subject of many conflicts and disagreements. However, they have given rise to generally accepted rules for the most common conflict issues, namely the originality and autonomy of content and authorship, which are summarized below.

Publications should be:

  • describe the results completely and comprehensibly,
  • provide complete and correct evidence of their own and other people's preparatory work (quotations),
  • previously published results only in clearly identified form

and repeat only to the extent necessary to understand the context. Many journals require a written declaration in their author guidelines that the content of a manuscript has not already been published or submitted for publication in whole or in part elsewhere.

Only those authors of an original scientific publication should be named who have made a substantial contribution to the study or experimental design, to the elaboration, analysis and interpretation of the data and to the drafting of the manuscript itself, and who have agreed to its publication, i.e. who are responsible contributors. Some journals require this to be evidenced by the signatures of all authors, while others require the corresponding author, as the person responsible for all details of a publication, to provide appropriate insurance. In the event that not all co-authors can provide a guarantee for the entire content, some journals recommend that the individual contributions be identified.

In order to avoid conflicts over authorship, it is recommended that, the greater the number of people involved in the development of the results, clear agreements should be made early on (if possible before the start of the project and at the latest before the publication is produced) to provide orientation in the event of dissent. It is against the rules of good scientific practice to terminate the collaboration without sufficient reason or to prevent the publication of the results as co-author, on whose consent the publication is dependent, without urgent reason. Publication refusals must be justified by verifiable criticism of data, methods or results.

Table 1: Inclusion and exclusion criteria for co-authorship according to DFG Guidelines

authorship is justified if

has made a significant contribution to:

authorship as a rule not

justified if only the following

contributions were made:

Study Design Responsibility for the recruitment of the


Development, analysis, interpretation

of the data

Contribution more important

test materials

Wording of the manuscript

was made

management of an institution or

organizational unit, in which the

publication has been produced

Organisationseinheit, in der die

Publikation entstanden ist