Not always easy to distinguish between an author and a non-author contributor.
Definitions of authorship vary greatly amongst disciplines; there are no universal standards, but a common denominator would be that authorship implies responsibility and accountability for the published work. Amongst the existing attempts of defining authorship, our preference goes to the Vancouver rules, which stipulate that to claim authorship, one must
- substantially contribute to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
- draft the work or revise it critically for important intellectual content; AND
- approve the final version to be published; AND
- agree 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 are appropriately investigated and resolved; AND
- be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific parts of the work.
If yes to all, one may claim authorship. Otherwise, one will be considered as a non-author contributor, and the work accomplished as such MUST be acknowledged somewhere in the article, preferably in the acknowledgement section.
Being able to identify each co-author’ s contribution should prevent omitted authors and added individuals who did not play a significant role in the research, ghost and honorary authorship, respectively. The author list, and its order, should be agreed by all co-authors.