27.10 University of Iowa Authorship Policy

(Faculty Senate 2/12)
  1. Purpose and expectations.
    1. Authorship explicitly assigns both credit and responsibility for intellectual work and has tangible implications for faculty, staff, and student participants on project teams. It is the policy of The University of Iowa that authorship assignments thus should honestly reflect actual contributions as a function of the ethical conduct of scholarship. Faculty should be especially aware of their responsibility to safeguard the rights of staff and students at all levels to publish.
    2. Adherence to this policy is specifically intended to eliminate authorship assignment rooted in power inequities, inappropriate practices, and perceptions of conflict of interest in the presentation of scholarly findings.
    3. Participants are expected to engage early in the publication development process in open and clear communication about the assignment of authorship roles with their potential publishing colleagues. Written agreements specifying the details of authorship and contributions may be warranted in many cases but are good practice in all cases.
  2. Applicability.
    1. This policy applies to all individuals at The University of Iowa engaged in the publication of research, defined broadly as all forms of scholarly investigation or creative work, regardless of funding source.
    2. Colleges and departments are encouraged to develop additional "best practices" guidelines regarding authorship for their faculty, staff, and students that address discipline-specific issues.
    3. The term "publication" as used in this policy is meant generically, representing as inclusively as possible any manner of report, paper, manuscript, article, book, chapter, treatise, or other publishable product whether printed or digital in format.
  3. Attribution of authorship.
    1. Authorship is limited to those who meet both of the following criteria and expectations; all those who meet these standards should be included as an author:
      1. Significant intellectual contribution to a project through conception and design, or data collection and analysis, or interpretation; and
      2. Ability to identify their own contribution, and ideally the contributions of each participating author, and defend the major aspects of the project presented in the publication, although not necessarily all the technical details.
      In addition, it is expected that each author has been given the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the manuscript (or substantive revision of its scholarly content) and approves the final version of the manuscript to be published.
    2. Provision of logistical, financial, or administrative support alone does not constitute a valid basis for authorship. Recognition of these types of contribution is appropriate for an acknowledgements section of a publication.
  4. Standards. This policy acknowledges that the significance of a particular method of ordering authorship may be understood in a given setting but that order of authorship has no generally agreed-upon meaning across all academic disciplines. Additionally, standards for "substantive" and "scholarly content" differ among the various disciplines and publishing venues. This policy requires that criteria for attributing and ordering authorship by practitioners of specific disciplines at The University of Iowa will be widely recognized and consistent across that discipline as a whole, and generally consistent with the standards of the publication in which the work appears, including the following.
    1. Authorship roles. As a practical issue for multi-author publications in disciplines where "lead" (also known in some fields as "corresponding") authors are the norm, collaborators on a publication are to agree as early in the planning process as practical on one author as lead. The remaining authors are then designated as participating authors. Lead designation is intended as an administrative role and doesn't necessarily imply greater individual contribution to the publication. In disciplines where authorship practices are typically more consensus based, collaborators are encouraged to proactively discuss responsibility for administrative matters relating to publication submittal.
      1. Lead author. Depending on the discipline and the nature of the collaborative work, the lead author need not be the first, last, or most senior author, nor necessarily the principal investigator or project leader. At the outset of the study all authors should discuss the outline of work and a tentative order of authorship should be established with the logic governing this order made explicit. As projects proceed, agreements regarding authorship may need to be changed. The lead author is responsible for the integrity of the work as a whole, and ensuring that reasonable care and effort has been taken to determine that all the data are complete, accurate, reasonably interpreted, and accessible to others within the norms of the discipline and requirements of the publishing venue. It is the responsibility of the lead author to assure that the contributions of all participating authors are properly recognized. In cases where a lead author has been formally assigned, this individual assumes overall responsibility for the publication and typically serves as the managerial and corresponding author. In consensus situations, all authors jointly share responsibility. The lead author (or consensus authors) is (are) responsible for confirming that all participating authors meet this policy's authorship criteria, for providing the manuscript's final draft to each participating author for review and approval, and for following any journal-specific requirements governing author review and consent (such as signature forms).
      2. Participating author. Each author of a publication, regardless of relative seniority or level of contribution, is responsible for providing confirmation of authorship in accordance with this policy's criteria and the requirements of the selected publication venue. Confirmation of authorship includes verifying review and approval of the final manuscript to be published. Each author is responsible for the content of those portions of the manuscript ascribed to them, including the integrity of any applicable research. An individual offered authorship of a publication for which they do not satisfy the criteria for authorship as set forth in this policy should decline authorship in accordance with this policy and University policies regarding responsibilities to scholarship (see III-15.3). All reasonable attempts will be made to seek confirmation in accordance with this policy from individuals who meet authorship criteria but have left the institution (e.g., students who have graduated) or are no longer in contact with the lead or other participating authors.
    2. Appropriate use of acknowledgements and disclosures. The nature and character of acknowledgements appearing in manuscripts varies considerably depending on a given discipline. The following principles are meant to provide guidance but not contradict the requirements prescribed by specific journals or publications.
      1. "Acknowledgements" should communicate to granting agencies, promotion committees, scholarly readers, and others the specific contributions that are insufficient under this policy to justify authorship. Such contributions include general supervision of a research group, assistance in obtaining funding, technical support, and assistance in writing and editing the manuscript. Individuals who may have participated in the development of a publication but who do not meet the criteria for authorship, such as editorial assistants, illustrators, medical writers, or other individuals, provide a valuable contribution to the writing and editing of publications. Since those contributions do not meet the criteria for authorship under this policy, these individuals should be listed in an acknowledgements section of the published work.
      2. All authors, in their manuscripts submitted for review and publication, must disclose the source(s) of support (financial and/or tangible resources) for the work unless otherwise instructed by the journal or publication. Examples of support include but are not limited to 1) research and educational grants, 2) contracts, 3) corporate sponsorships, 4) gifts, and 5) institutional sources (departmental, collegiate, central administration, or hospital). Authors shall fully disclose all relevant financial interests that could be viewed as a potential conflict of interest in accordance with University policies (see II-18).
      3. Since it is possible that readers may infer endorsement of the data and conclusions from an acknowledgement, those acknowledged should give written permission and a disclaimer shall be included specifically indicating that inclusion in the acknowledgements does not imply endorsement by those named.
  5. Violations. The following are examples of acts that may violate this policy:
    1. Intentional exclusion of a person as author who meets the criteria defined above in paragraph c of this policy.
    2. Acceptance or ascription of an honorary authorship. Honorary (guest, courtesy, or prestige) authorship is granting authorship out of appreciation or respect for an individual, or in the belief that the expert standing of the honored person will increase the likelihood of publication, credibility, or status of the work.
    3. Acceptance or ascription of a gift authorship. Gift authorship is credit, offered from a sense of obligation, tribute, or dependence, within the context of an anticipated benefit, to an individual who has not appropriately contributed to the work.
    4. Acceptance or ascription of a ghost authorship. Ghost authorship is the failure to identify as an author someone who made substantial contributions to the research or writing of a manuscript thus meriting authorship or allowing significant editorial control of a publication by an unnamed party, which may constitute a real or perceived conflict of interest that should be disclosed.
  6. Dispute resolution and disciplinary action. A person who believes their authorship rights have been intentionally violated or who wishes to report other improper authorship practices as identified above in paragraph e of this policy may pursue informal mediation of the issue through departmental or collegiate channels or a person may bring a formal complaint under this policy to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO) or other designated individual appointed by the Vice President for Research for resolution. In the event that improper authorship practices are identified and depending on the University status, including but not limited to faculty, staff, or student, of the respondent whose action is the subject of the complaint, the RIO or other designated individual may consult with appropriate collegiate or departmental offices in determining appropriate sanctions and whether and when to pursue formal disciplinary action. During dispute resolution the involved authors are expected to refrain from actions that may damage the authorship interests and rights of the other participating authors.


(See also II-18.6 Conflict of Interest in Research.)