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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.

Order of authors in astroparticle physics, hadron physics, nuclear physics and particle physics

In astroparticle physics, hadron physics, nuclear physics and particle physics it is common practice to name authors in alphabetical order. It is possible to highlight extensive contributions by individual authors, especially early career researchers, by means of first authorships. However, there are no overarching regulations as to whether or how the relative contributions of the authors are to be identified.

Experimental research in these fields is largely organised in international consortia that plan, develop, build and operate the complex experiments and observatories as well as analysing the resulting data. This work is carried out in large teams (“collaborations”) consisting of between a few tens and several thousands of researchers over periods of years to several decades. Contributions by individual collaboration members are essential to success – regardless of whether their work involved writing the published text, analysing the data, running the experiment, constructing and calibrating the detectors or other tasks.

So in experiments organised in this way, all collaboration members are usually listed as authors, normally in strict alphabetical order. In such cases, special contributions are not identified based on first or last authorship. Individual collaborations define the exact rules for author selection; these rules may differ in detail (e.g. waiting period after admission of new members to the collaboration), but the aim is always to ensure that all authors have made identifiable contributions to the output of the research and that authorship is guaranteed for all contributions to a publication. Here, again, there are no overarching rules as to whether or how the leading authors of individual publications are to be identified. In some cases this is done by naming them as “corresponding authors”, but this neither provides a complete picture nor is it common practice. For this reason, it is customary for authors to specifically describe the main direct contributions they have made to individual publications when drawing up applications or proposals.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

GL14 (Natural sciences)