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The following comment refers to this/these guideline(s)

Guideline 14


An author is an individual who has made a genuine, identifiable contribution to the content of a research publication of text, data or software. All authors agree on the final version of the work to be published. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, they share responsibility for the publication. Authors seek to ensure that, as far as possible, their contributions are identified by publishers or infrastructure providers such that they can be correctly cited by users.


The contribution must add to the research content of the publication. What constitutes a genuine and identifiable contribution must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and depends on the subject area in question. An identifiable, genuine contribution is deemed to exist particularly in instances in which a researcher – in a research-relevant way – takes part in

  • the development and conceptual design of the research project, or
  • the gathering, collection, acquisition or provision of data, software or sources, or
  • the analysis/evaluation or interpretation of data, sources and conclusions drawn from them, or
  • the drafting of the manuscript.

If a contribution is not sufficient to justify authorship, the individual’s support may be properly acknowledged in footnotes, a foreword or an acknowledgement. Honorary authorship where no such contribution was made is not permissible. A leadership or supervisory function does not itself constitute co-authorship.

Collaborating researchers agree on authorship of a publication. The decision as to the order in which authors are named is made in good time, normally no later than when the manuscript is drafted, and in accordance with clear criteria that reflect the practices within the relevant subject areas. Researchers may not refuse to give their consent to publication of the results without sufficient grounds. Refusal of consent must be justified with verifiable criticism of data, methods or results.

Author order in mathematics

In mathematical publications it has been common practice to date for the authors to appear in alphabetical order. The authors are equally responsible for the content, unless otherwise indicated and explained in the publication. 

When publishing jointly with researchers from other disciplines, it is common practice to follow the conventions of the journal to which the paper is submitted.

In the case of journals in the field of numerics and scientific computing (e.g. SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing) and statistics, the authors are frequently no longer simply named in alphabetical order.

In mathematics, too, there has been a general development away from the previous strict alphabetical order of authors towards an order that reflects the share in research work. When deviating from the equal authorship model, where authors appear in alphabetical order, it is advisable to add a clear explanation of what the order is intended to reflect so as to avoid (potentially false) implicit assumptions. In particular, specific responsibilities can be explicitly mentioned such as software development.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL14 (Natural sciences)