Comment on:

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 physics and chemistry

In many areas of physics and chemistry, the order of authors in publications is based on the scope of their contribution, i.e. the author with the largest contribution appears first, followed by the author with the next largest contribution, and so on. Here, the weighting of contributions should be determined by mutual agreement among all authors. Equivalent first authorship, as can occur in collaborations, for example, is explicitly supported and must be identified accordingly.

As a rule, however, the established researchers who act as corresponding authors appear at the end of the list of authors, which makes them easy to identify. In this way, researchers are given particular exposure in early career phases: this is not only conducive to an academic career, it is even a qualification criterion at some faculties/departments. In the case of several corresponding authors, e.g. in connection with collaborative projects, a so-called inverse order might be considered: the leading corresponding author appears last, the subordinate author in the penultimate position, etc. Subject-specific deviations from this rule are common in large international collaborations.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL14 (Natural sciences)



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