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.

Authorship criteria / negative catalogue

Due to the differing practices and cultures in the various academic fields and communities, developing a universally valid and all-encompassing definition of authorship poses a considerable challenge.

For this reason, Guideline 14 of the Code provides orientation on the question of authorship; this can and should be applied in all areas of research.

The negative catalogue of contributions below provides additional guidance. It contains aspects which are not sufficient in themselves to justify authorship:

  • Mere organisational responsibility for the acquisition of funding
  • Provision of standard investigation materials
  • Training of staff in standard methods
  • Data collection assistance of a purely technical nature
  • Support of a purely technical nature, e.g. only providing equipment, laboratory animals, etc.
  • In general, the mere provision of data sets or existing research software
  • Mere reading of the manuscript, without substantial contributions to its content
  • Management of an institution or organisational unit in which the publication originated

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL14 (General)