To be named as an author on a research output is meritorious. Authorship signifies that an individual has made a significant contribution to the work and is accountable for it. It also carries significant value for a researcher. It is therefore important that authorship is attributed accurately and responsibly and in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018).

Author eligibility

Attribution of authorship and author order depends to some extent on the discipline. In all cases authorship must be based on a substantive contribution to the work. Researchers should discuss authorship at an early stage in a research project to establish:

  • Who will be listed as an author on potential research outputs
  • The order in which the authors will be listed
  • The responsibilities of each author

Written records of authorship agreements should be kept and reviewed periodically, such as when a researcher leaves or joins the project. 

Authorship eligibility and criteria for UQ researchers is prescribed in the University’s Authorship Policy and Procedures. Authorship is not tied to position or profession and will not be offered to those who do not meet the requirements; gift, ghost or honorary authorship is unacceptable. Researchers are also required to comply with the authorship guidelines of the publisher to which they are submitting.

Author responsibilities

The contribution of authors to a research publication will often vary. All authors, however, have responsibility for the validity, originality and integrity of the work. The University’s Authorship Policy and Procedures sets out the responsibilities of all authors, which include:

  • Adhering to author eligibility criteria
  • Ensuring accuracy of reporting and in assigning credit for work contributed
  • Reaching agreement on authorship in writing prior to submission of a work for review
  • Acknowledging the contributions of others, including funding agencies
  • Declaring conflicts of interest

Authorship disputes

Disputes over authorship sometimes arise. Such disputes can delay research, hinder publication and damage relationships between collaborators. Disputes can be avoided with appropriate communication and by obtaining agreements about authorship early in the research process and regularly reviewing those agreements.

Staff and students who are uncertain or have a concern about any aspect of authorship may talk to a Research Integrity Advisor. Where a dispute arises the University’s Authorship Policy and Procedures encourages authors to attempt to resolve it through direct discussion amongst the individuals involved. If this fails to resolve the issue authors should follow the dispute resolution process detailed in the procedure.

Additional resources

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) – UQ began transitioning to the 2018 Code in April 2019 (transition details available here)

How to Handle Authorship Disputes (Committee on Publication Ethics)

Roles and Responsibilities of Authors (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors)