Publication and authorship

Publication

Publication of results is an integral and essential component of research. The University encourages all researchers to promote their work through publishing and other forms of dissemination. Publication includes:

  • journals and books
  • conference papers
  • conference posters
  • reports commissioned by external organisations
  • promotional reports
  • articles in the media
  • online journals and project websites

Researchers should give priority to publishing in publications that employ rigorous standards of peer review.

The University encourages researchers to follow best practice in publication as detailed in guidelines issued by, for example, the Committee on Publication Ethics, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) and the Council of Science Editors.

Guidance on working with the media is available from the Public Affairs Directorate website or by contacting the University's News Office.

Good conduct in publication practice

In publication and authorship, as in all other aspects of research, researchers are expected to follow the principles of good research conduct supported by the University. It is essential that the parties involved in research and publication discuss and agree on

  • authorship
  • recognition of other contributions
  • acknowledgement of sponsors
  • declaration of any conflicts of interest

Authorship

Generally, an author is considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to a published study. This includes anyone who:

  • made a substantial contribution to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data for the work; and 
  • drafted or substantively reviewed or revised the publication; and
  • approved the final version of the publication; and
  • agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work could be appropriately investigated and resolved.

The widely accepted International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines set a high standard. However there is great variation in practice among different disciplines and research fields, so no universal set of standards exists. 

This places most of the responsibility for decisions about authorship on the researchers who conducted the research reported in the publication. These decisions are best made early in each project to avoid misunderstanding and later disputes.

Authorship guidelines

Researchers should seek to publish their results in accordance with current best practice and funders' terms and conditions. They should ensure that they:

  • use the most appropriate means to publish the results of their research, typically as papers in refereed journals
  • comply with University policies and funder requirements in the dissemination of the results of research and, where appropriate, seek guidance and approval to report data to the media
  • publish a coherent report of the work and do not report the data more than once (unless in a secondary analysis) or sub-divide the data (unless this was a predefined approach)
  • analyse the data using appropriate methods of statistical analysis
  • provide a summary of the work in layman’s terms  and give appropriate feedback to everyone who took part in the study
  • acknowledge and cite the work of others where appropriate, fully and accurately attributing relevant sources
  • take steps to ensure the accuracy of the data reported and act immediately to correct any genuine errors or misunderstanding
  • acknowledge the funding, support, sponsorship and other forms of input (including that of the University) to the work in an appropriate way
  • give notice of intention to publish and seek approval, where appropriate, from all partner organisations
  • openly declare all relevant interests
  • not seek media exposure for research which has not been subject to peer review, unless sanctioned by all parties
  • handle the release of research data which might have high and/or commercial impact with care and sensitivity, consulting the University and other partners as appropriate

Where the work has more than one author the researchers should also:

  • agree the contribution each will make to reporting the work and review this commitment regularly as the work progresses
  • appoint a lead or executive author for communication on the work
  • report the work fairly according to each author’s contribution, and neither omit, underplay nor overplay a contributor's input
  • comply with the definition of author and co-author given by the publication or by international organisations (eg International Committee of Medical Journal Editors)
  • provide a formal offer of authorship (which should be accepted or declined in writing) to those meeting the agreed definitions
  • maintain a file of all relevant signatures in case of disputes