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Policy 7.30
Policy on Authorship Guidelines and Dispute Resolution

Responsible Official: VP for Research Administration
Administering Division/Department: Office of Research Administration
Effective Date: October 02, 2015
Last Revision: August 01, 2016

Policy Sections:


This policy (the Policy) sets forth the policies and procedures that should be followed with regard to determining authorship for purposes of scholarly contribution and attribution on research and scholarly publications. The Policy describes the responsibilities of authors and defines the procedure for authorship dispute resolution.


 This Policy applies to all areas of research and intellectual inquiry.  This Policy applies to all persons performing research or scholarly work at or on behalf of Emory University, including but not limited to employees, agents, and affiliates through contract or agreement with the University, officials, tenured and untenured faculty, teaching and support staff, researchers, research coordinators, clinical technicians, postdoctoral and other fellows, students, volunteers, agents, and contractors, subcontractors, and sub-awardees, and their employees.

Policy Details


7.30.1            Authorship Guidelines


A.                     Proactive Communication of Responsibilities and Expectations


Given that there is often some level of expectation with regard to authorship or acknowledgment for those contributing to research or scholarly work, it is appropriate to address questions of authorship and acknowledgment at the earliest practical stage. All contributors to a work should have an understanding of what kind of contribution merits authorship and/or acknowledgment, the expected order of authorship, and the responsibilities and expectations for each contributor. Additionally, it is important for contributors to discuss such matters on an on-going basis, as the roles of contributors often change during the course of a project.


B.                     Principles of Authorship


Standards for authorship vary between disciplines and journals.  It is expected that all contributors to research and/or scholarly work at Emory University shall conform to the specific, written authorship standards stated for the relevant journal. In absence of a relevant journal standard, all contributors to a research and/or scholarly work may mutually agree to conform to a written standard that is widely regarded as acceptable in the relevant field.  In the absence of any of the aforementioned specific, written standards, the following principles, based upon the International Committee of

Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) “Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals” (2014), are expected to be followed:


¿  To qualify for authorship, a contributor must meet all of the following criteria:

¿  Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND

¿  Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND

¿  Final approval of the version to be published; AND

¿  Agreement to be fully accountable for his or her contribution to the content;

¿  All contributors identified as an author must qualify for authorship, and all contributors who qualify for authorship must be identified as an author;

¿  All authors should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work, and should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors;

¿  Contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be acknowledged in the work if they agree to be acknowledged;

¿  For multi-authored works, one author should be designated as the “corresponding author”, who takes responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole.

¿  The following contributions, without otherwise meeting the above qualifying criteria for authorship, do not qualify a contributor for authorship:

¿  Acquisition of funding;

¿  Collection of data;

¿  Provision of research material;

¿  General supervision of a research group;

¿  Editing/assembly of text or illustrations;


Regardless of the standard applied, the following practices are not acceptable (herein “Unacceptable Practices”):


¿  Honorary, prestige and courtesy authorships (provision of authorship to persons not otherwise meeting appropriate authorship criteria, including but not limited to granting authorship as a favor, gift, or result of a person’s position)

¿  Ghost authorships (not naming as authors those persons that otherwise meet appropriate authorship criteria)

¿  Coercive authorships (exertion of seniority or supervisory power by a person in order to be conferred authorship when appropriate authorship criteria are not otherwise met)

¿  Intentional or knowing denial of deserved authorships

¿  Self-plagiarism (the re-publication of one’s own work or substantial and substantive portions thereof without citation to the original work).  The threshold of whether re-use of one’s own work rises to the level of self-plagiarism shall be determined by the relevant journal standard, or if none exists, the relevant standard in the industry/field (written or otherwise).


7.30.2            Authorship Dispute Resolution


A.                     Initial Resolution


It is recognized that even when the aforementioned principles of authorship are followed, conflicts of opinion with regard to authorship may arise.  In the event of an authorship dispute, the disputing parties should first attempt to resolve the matter at the local level by taking the following steps:


¿  The parties in conjunction with the other authors of the work at issue should first attempt to resolve the dispute amongst themselves through open discussion;

¿  If the dispute remains unresolved, the parties should seek mediation by the chair or head of the relevant department or program. In instances in which multiple departments or programs are involved, the corresponding chairs or heads of the departments or programs may decide to jointly mediate as appropriate. Such mediation may include equivalent representatives from other institutions or universities when parties from such institutions or universities are involved in the dispute;

¿  For disputes between faculty members, if the authorship dispute remains unresolved after taking the above steps, the parties in conjunction with the other authors of the work may wish to contact the Chair of the Standing Committee on Faculty Peer Mediation of the University Faculty Council through its confidential phone line to request voluntary

peer-mediation through this mechanism.




B.                     Authorship Dispute Committee


An Authorship Dispute Committee shall be convened to resolve a dispute under this Policy when one of the following circumstances arises:


¿  Any disputing party requests resolution by an Authorship Dispute Committee after all attempts under 7.30.2.A fail to resolve the dispute, provided that the party makes such request in writing to its dean’s office or unit director within ten (10) calendar days after the conclusion of the attempted resolution under 7.30.2.A; OR

¿  A chair or head of department or program involved in the attempted local resolution believes that the dispute involves any of the Unacceptable Practices; OR

¿  Allegations that any of the Unacceptable Practices were committed are brought to the attention of a school or other University unit in a context other than a dispute between authors and/or potential authors (e.g., allegation received from a non-author who reviewed the article; allegations from a journal; allegation received through the University’s Trustline).

¿  In such situation, initial resolution as described in section 7.30.2A is not required.  Additionally, the author(s) against whom the allegations are made shall be the sole “disputing party”, and whether the Unacceptable Practice occurred and if so, what actions should be taken shall be considered the “dispute” for purposes of the process under this section 7.30.2.B.  If the person/entity who brings the allegations forward has identified himself/herself/itself, then the person/entity may provide evidence to the Authorship Dispute Committee, but shall not participate in the process under this Policy as a disputing party.  .


Except as otherwise allowed for in this Policy, the Authorship Dispute Committee shall consist of the following:

¿  Three faculty members from the school of the disputing parties as chosen by the school’s dean’s office or unit director’s office


In the event that the disputing parties are from two different schools or units, the relevant schools’ dean’s offices or unit directors may each appoint one faculty member from their respective school/unit, and the third member shall be mutually agreed upon by the schools or units, or chosen by the Provost (or Provost’s representative) if no agreement can be reached. In the event that three or more schools or units are involved, the Authorship Dispute Committee shall be comprised of one appointed faculty member from each school or unit. In the event that the disputing parties include persons at institutions other than Emory, the relevant Emory school(s) or unit(s) of the Emory disputing parties will work with the other institution(s) as deemed appropriate and/or as agreed upon by the multiple institutions.


The Authorship Dispute Committee shall be formed, and written notice of its formation shall be provided by dean’s unit director’s office to the disputing parties within thirty (30) calendar days after a qualifying request to convene has been made. No member of the Authorship Dispute Committee may be an author or content contributor to the work that is the subject of the authorship dispute, or otherwise have a Conflict of Interest (real or apparent interference of a person’s or entity’s interests with the interests of another person or entity, where potential bias may occur due to prior existing personal or professional relationships).  The disputing parties shall have ten (10) days from the receipt of this notice in which to provide any written “good faith” objection (i.e., the party has a reasonable belief in the basis of the objection without a knowing or reckless disregard for information negating the basis of objection) to the membership Authorship Dispute Committee. If no objection is received within this period, then any objection on the part of the disputing parties shall be considered waived. If an objection is made, then in order for it to be considered, it must set forth in sufficient detail a reasonable basis for the objection a (e.g., Conflict of Interest). The dean’s or unit director’s

office shall consider any objection, and if it determines that the objection is reasonable and in good faith, shall appoint a new member of the Authorship Dispute Committee. If it determines that the objection is not made in good faith and/or

is unreasonable, the membership of the Authorship Dispute Committee shall stand.


The Authorship Dispute Committee shall interview the disputing parties, and may interview additional persons at its sole discretion.   The Authorship Dispute Committee, at its sole discretion, may also consider any evidence provided during the course of their review by the disputing parties or as requested by the Authorship Dispute Committee, and may also request written statements from the parties.  In accordance with Section 7.30.1 B of this Policy, the Authorship Dispute Committee must also determine and identify in their recommendation the written standards of authorship the Committee will apply to the dispute at hand.  In this regard, if the scholarly work at issue has been submitted to a journal, the Authorship Dispute Committee will apply that journal’s authorship principles.  If, however, the journal to which a work has been submitted has no such principles, or if the work has not been submitted to a journal, then  the Authorship Dispute Committee may apply one of the other default standards set forth in Section 7.30.1 B, or, alternatively, select and apply a different written standard that is widely regarded as acceptable in the relevant field.   If the Committee selects and applies a standard other than one listed in Section 7.30.1 B, the Committee must cite to the written standard selected and explain the basis for the standard’s selection. After consideration of the opinions and evidence and application of the selected authorship standards, the Authorship Dispute Committee shall provide a

written recommendation for the resolution of the dispute to the relevant dean’s office or unit director, along with the rationale for their recommendations. Upon receipt of the written recommendation, the relevant dean’s office or unit director shall make an administrative determination as to whether to accept recommendations. In making this administrative determination, the dean’s office or unit director shall give considerable weight to the recommendations of the Authorship Dispute Committee. In the event that the dean’s office or unit director rejects the Authorship Dispute Committee’s recommendations, it/he/she shall set forth in the written administrative determination the reasons therefore. The dean’s office or unit director shall provide a copy of the administrative determination (which shall include a summary of the Authorship Dispute Committee’s recommendations and rationale therefore) to the parties, and shall enforce the administrative determination, including correspondence from the dean’s office or unit director to relevant academic journals as appropriate. The administrative determination shall be provided within sixty (60) calendar days of the Authorship Dispute Committee’s formation; provided, however, that extensions of time may be granted by the relevant dean’s office or unit director at its/his/her sole discretion.


Any disputing party shall have the right to appeal the administrative determination to the dean or unit director (or their appointed designee for such matters) within ten (10) days of receipt by the party of the final administrative determination. The only grounds for appeal are procedural error or substantive new evidence in favor of the party. The Authorship Dispute Committee’s determination of which written standards of authorship apply to the dispute is considered a substantive determination and not a basis of appeal.   The appeal must be in writing and must specifically enumerate the grounds for appeal and provide documentation or affidavits of any substantive new evidence for consideration.    If no appeal is received by the end of the ten (10) day period, the parties shall be deemed to have waived any appeal rights. If an appeal enumerating qualifying grounds (as determined by the Dean or Unit Director) is received in a timely fashion, the dean or unit director will appoint an Appeals Committee consisting of three individuals who have sufficient expertise to review the appeal and who do not have any conflict of interest with regard to the Respondent or the matter for review.    Members of the Authorship Dispute Committee and prior mediators involved in the dispute during local resolution attempts shall not be eligible to serve on the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee shall have thirty (30) days within which to review the record of proceedings, and the substantive new evidence (if any), and issue an Appeals Report to the Dean or Unit Director that provides as follows:


a.            If the Appeals Committee determines that there were no procedural errors and there is no substantive new evidence that could justify reversing the administrative determination, then the appeal shall be denied.

b.            If the Appeals Committee determines that there were procedural errors or that there is substantive new evidence that could justify reversing the administrative determination, then the Appeals Committee may grant the appeal and recommend re-initiating dispute resolution by a new Authorship Dispute Committee.


C.                    Relationship to Other Policies and Procedures


To the extent that the subject matter of dispute falls within the scope of another University policy or falls under the jurisdiction of another University unit, such matters shall be handled in accordance with the relevant University policy and referred to the relevant University unit as appropriate.  Non-limiting examples include referrals to the following units.


¿  Institutional Review Board (IRB) for matters falling within the scope of the Emory University Institutional Review Board Policies and Procedures;

¿  Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for matters falling within the scope of IACUC policies, procedures,  and  guidelines;

¿  Conflict of Interest (COI) for matters falling within the scope of Policy 7.7: Policy for Investigators Holding a Financial Interest in Research;

¿  Office of Compliance (OC) for matters falling within the scope of Policy 7.8:  Policy on Research Misconduct.

¿  Matters falling within the scope of Policy 7.9:   Guidelines for Responsible Conduct of Scholarship and Research shall be handled within the local department or unit in accordance with that policy.

¿  Retaliation against disputing parties, persons bringing allegations, witnesses, Authorship Dispute Committee members, and other participants under this Policy is prohibited in accordance with Emory Policy 4.121:  Non-retaliation.


Related Links

Contact Information

Clarification of Policy  Office of Compliance  404-727-2237  kwest02@emory.edu 

Revision History