Recommendations for authorship in scientific publications

Read about author- and co-authorship, the author ranking and dealing with (co-)authorship in the publication process. These recommendations are based on a note written by professor Bart Koelmans and have been approved by Wageningen Graduate Schools.

Authorship and co-authorship

All persons designated as authors must meet the criteria for authorship detailed in the following statement: We [or substitute "I"] certify that we have participated substantially in the conception and design of this work and the analysis of the data [when applicable] as well as the writing of the manuscript. We have reviewed the final version of the manuscript, approve it for publication, and take public responsibility for its content. Neither this manuscript nor one with substantially similar content under our authorship has been published or is being considered for publication elsewhere, except as described in an attachment.

The co-authors of a paper should be all those persons who have made significant scientific contributions to the work reported and who share responsibility and accountability for the results. Other contributions should be indicated in a footnote or an “acknowledgments” section. An administrative relationship to the investigation does not of itself qualify a person for co-authorship (but occasionally it may be appropriate to acknowledge major administrative assistance). The author who submits a manuscript for publication accepts the responsibility of having included as co-authors all persons appropriate and none inappropriate. The submitting author should have sent each living co-author a draft copy of the manuscript and have obtained the co-author’s assent to co-authorship of it.

Author ranking

  • A researcher could claim a legitimate co-authorship if he/she has made an integrating, overarching and substantial contribution to at least two of the following three scientific research activities: design of the research, data collection / data analysis and writing of the manuscript.
  • The ‘first author’ is always the person who has made the most important integrating contribution
  • All other authors are ranked in accordance with the general rules or customs of the specific discipline. Authors may be ranked in order of decreasing importance of their integrating contribution, or a special position may be assigned to the 2nd author (direct supervisor) and last author (research leader), unless the editorial board of a scientific journal has determined other rules for author ranking explicitly. Please note, that all supervisors and research leaders mentioned as co-author should have made a substantial contribution to at least two of the research activities mentioned above to.
  • Keep in mind the tasks and competences of the author in order to balance the importance of their “substantial individual contributions”.