Authorship of Scholarly Publications

Date : March 4, 2020
Number: 2.700
Status: Final

Contact Office:
Assistant Dean for ResearchAdministration
School of Medicine, Dean’s Office
Office of Grants and Contracts
PO Box 800793
Charlottesville, VA 22908

Oversight Executive:
Senior Associate Dean for Research
School of Medicine, Dean’s Office
PO Box 800793
Charlottesville, VA 22908
phone: 434-243-7088

Applies to:
Any employee, trainee, or other person making substantial use of University of Virginia School of Medicine research or clinical resources, or any individual who shares authorship of an article or publication where the first or corresponding author is a University of Virginia School of Medicine employee.

Ghost author –an individual or commercial entity whose substantial writing contribution is not mentioned or credited for that contribution in an article, report, or other publication.

Reason for Policy:
Ethical considerations and concerns for professional status may create uncertainty and difficult dilemmas for an investigator who is publishing results of research. This
policy provides guidance on how to determine authorship.

Policy Statement:
In preparing a scientific report for publication, investigators must follow the guidelines for authorship as listed below. Before submitting a manuscript or revision, each author must read and approve the document and agree to take public or legal responsibility for its content.

Ghost authorship is strictly forbidden by the School of Medicine. Faculty may not publish articles as their own without disclosing any ghost authors, and faculty may not serve as ghost authors on scholarly publications.


  1. Authorship. To be listed as an author of a scholarly publication, an investigator must have: (a) made substantial contributions to the conception, design, or data acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of the project; (b) drafted or critically revised the resulting manuscript, and (c) given approval of the manuscript to be submitted for publication. All individuals who meet these three criteria should be listed as authors; however, any individual may refuse to be included as a co-author. Honorary or courtesy authors should not be included.
  2. First and senior authors. The first author generally will have made the greatest contribution among all authors and usually will have written the first draft of the paper or critically revised the manuscript. The senior author(the individual who led the study, who may also be the first author) accepts overall responsibility for all of the reported findings, for inclusion of appropriate co-authors, and for the order of authorship. The senior author also shall determine who will act as the corresponding author when the manuscript is submitted for publication.
  3. Acknowledgments. The following do not constitute authorship and may be listed among the Acknowledgments: provision of space or financial resources; general supervision of the research group; participation that does not meet the three requirements of authorship.

Best practices:

  1. Before initiating a project, participants should agree on and document its scope, authorship and acknowledgments, order of authorship, and each author’s responsibility in the project and in preparing the resulting manuscript. Subsequent changes in authorship or responsibilities should be reviewed and approved by the entire group.
  2. Prospective authors should maintain a log of their contributions to the project, to document authorship.
  3. Authors should be reminded by the senior author of their responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole.
  4. Before the manuscript or any revision is submitted, each author must read and approve it and agree to take public or legal responsibility for its content.
  5. Each author must disclose any significant financial interests and/or other real or potential conflicts of interest, as required by University, federal, sponsor, or journal policy.
  6. Disputes concerning authorship. Any individual who believes he or she should have been included as an author but was excluded should report the exclusion to the senior author. The senior author should attempt to resolve any such conflict initially, in consultation with the other authors. Failing that, the senior author and complainant should ask the division head, center director, or department chair to resolve the conflict. If a resolution is still not obtained, the Senior Associate Dean for Research will appoint one or more arbitrators from among School of Medicine faculty to formulate a recommendation on authorship. The final determination will be made by the Senior Associate Dean for Research.
  7. Disputes concerning authorship generally are distinct from research misconduct (University of Virginia policy referenced below). Allegations of research misconduct should be referred to the UVA Research Integrity Officer(see ).

Related Policies and Guidelines:
Research Misconduct Policy

JAMA guidelines on authorship criteria and contributions

Committee of Medical Journal Editors guidelines on authorship and contributors:

World Association of Medical Editors policy statement on authorship:

Revision History: Implemented August 1, 2007; revised 9/22/09; revised 10/24/13; revised 3/4/20.

Approved 3/4/2020 by
David S. Wilkes, MD