Authorship Guidelines

Version: May 14, 2020


Authorship practices have evolved over the past several decades as the scientific profession has become more globally connected, collaborative, and synthetic. The Jetz lab believes that the contemporary academic climate rewards collaboration and synthesis, and we strive to ensure that we are practicing science in the most modern and forward-looking manner possible. We regard clear coauthorship policies as a means for maintaining academic integrity (see Yale Guidance on Authorship in Scholarly or Scientific Publications) while also bolstering our ability to solicit the data, code, and general knowledge needed to productively collaborate (both inside and outside of the lab) and produce impactful science.

Guidelines for Determining Authorship

The Jetz lab follows publication guidelines established by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE):
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.
As of April 2020 most journals and academic societies have adopted the ICMJE guidelines. These guidelines serve two purposes. Guidelines 1 and 2 require that all authors have made important contributions to the project (#1) and were engaged with the writing process (#2), while guidelines 3 and 4 require that each author agrees with and supports the entirety of the final paper. Note that while these guidelines provide a useful framework for defining what constitutes authorship, it is our policy that all individuals who have been involved in a way that qualify for authorship under guideline #1 be offered the opportunity to participate further as coauthors. Any individual who has made substantial contributions to the project should be actively included in discussions of the manuscript (guideline #2) and given the opportunity to stand behind their work as it is represented in the paper (guidelines #3 and 4). Furthermore, we recognize in the detailed guidelines that follow that there are situations where drafting and revising a manuscript can rise to the level of substantial contribution to the work and thus simultaneously meet guidelines 1 and 2. These issues are discussed further in the draft detailed guidelines that are currently under development.
The above guidelines imply particular responsibility for the codesigners of a project (i.e., first author, last author/supervisor/mentor, potentially also others). It is the responsibility, first and foremost, of the first author, and subsequently, of the codesigners to identify and jointly agree upon all parties that have or will be invited to make a contribution significant enough to meet guideline #1. This process is to begin during the early stages of a project (i.e., after data and analytical needs are determined and before drafting for publication) and shall also include inspection of data contribution templates. Any subsequent invitation for coauthorship will be jointly discussed and agreed upon by the codesigners. In the event of disagreement among codesigners regarding coauthorship, further discussion must ensue until an agreement is reached. Ultimately, it is the first author’s responsibility to ensure that all authors meet the requirements for authorship. The first author will then communicate the decision to all coauthors. The codesigners will draft authorship order, then communicate and discuss with coauthors before making a final decision regarding authorship order. Codesigners and coauthors are expected to carefully develop and agree on the explicit statement of authorship contribution, and we will provide such statements of contribution even if not required by the journal.

Invitation to participate

Guideline #1 is a bar that must be met for invitation, but it should be significantly lower than the bar for earning final attribution as author (i.e., must also meet guidelines #2-4). If a contribution was deemed to be non-substantial, acknowledgement or a citation should be given to the individual contributor. In other cases, when the contribution is deemed non-substantial, the first author can offer an opportunity to contribute further and earn an invitation to authorship by meeting the criteria of guideline #1.

What is a substantial contribution?

In an effort to describe what substantial contribution means, we herein outline common types of contributions and assess if they meet criteria in guideline #1 and therefore the contributors should be granted invitation to participate under guidelines #2-4. For more details and examples in what constitutes a substantial contribution see our draft Detailed Author Guidelines, which are under development.
Recognizing the effort of individuals who contribute original scientific data to a study is often discussed in greater detail in other documents, including data sharing agreements, and use licenses. Please see our Data Sharing Guidelines here for more information. We follow the general principle that when the conclusions of the paper substantially rely on a dataset, the data contributor qualifies for authorship under guideline #1. In the event that the work has already been published or is in the form of an unsubmitted manuscript, a citation is the preferred way of acknowledgement.
The curation of primary data is essential for high quality analysis and should be recognized with acknowledgement, but generation of intermediate products, data processing and analysis, that provides a significant basis for the project meets the criteria in guideline #1. If the analysis builds off of significant prior work, then the developers of the prior work qualify for authorship under guideline #1 unless the work has already been published or in the form of unsubmitted manuscript, in which case a citation should be the preferred way of acknowledgement.
Any individual who significantly influenced the final structure and organization of a paper qualifies for authorship under guideline #1. Substantive text contributions of a paragraph or greater, and primary creation of one or more figures meet criteria in guideline #1. Proofreading and review alone (aka “friendly review”), small contributions to existing figures, and contributing ideas and suggestions does not meet criteria in guideline #1. While contributing ideas or suggestions alone may not warrant authorship, contributors of significant ideas should be approached with an opportunity to substantiate their idea, which could then meet criteria in guideline #1.