Before you submit your work to a journal you must clearly and honestly indicate the author(s). A journal editor will want to know who are truly qualified to be considered “authors”. 

Who is an author?

Only someone who has contributed substantially to the study can be called an “author”.

An “author” has a significant part in research and writing. An author must be accountable and take responsibility for the finished work. An author has a major part in the production of the final work, such as design, research, data analysis, interpretation of data, preparation, etc.

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, authors must fulfill all four of the following criteria:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  4. 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.

The journal editor may want to know what each author contributed to the work. You should be prepared to provide this information. 

Do not list anyone as an author if they have not actually contributed to the work. Sometimes authorship status might be given as a “gift” to a colleague or benefactor, but this is not acceptable in scientific publishing. This is known as “gift authorship” and is considered unethical. If you wish to acknowledge anyone, you can do so in the Acknowledgments section. If someone has contributed materials and wishes to be listed as an author, you can ask them to participate in data analysis and writing of the manuscript. In this way, they will have made a substantial contribution and thus qualify as an author. 

Before you submit your manuscript, be sure that all authors agree to authorship and also the order of their names. Check that all authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript. Make sure all authors also agree to submit it to your target journal. Editors expect you to check all of these things before you submit your manuscript.

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