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Authorship, and the role of the ‘corresponding author’

It is important to acknowledge the people involved in compiling and writing your research. Indeed, many journals now require authors to acknowledge not only the authors who were involved in writing up the research, but also any individuals who contributed to the research in some way. These are referred to as authorship and contributorship

Many of the leading journals adhere to the following standards maintained by ICMJE (www.icmje.org)

ICMJE defines an author as an individual who has made:

  • ‘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 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.’

(Taken from http://icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html, accessed 2 May 2016)

Individuals who do not meet all four of these criteria above, should not be listed as authors but should be acknowledged as contributors. The authors should include details of the kind of contribution that was made, e.g. to securing funding; help overseeing the research; or commenting on or advising on drafts of the research write-up.

More information about authors

A commonly asked question is ‘what order should I list the authors in?’

There are some standard conventions about this:

  1. The person who does the most work goes first
  2. After that, names are in order of greatest contribution

The ‘corresponding author’

This is the author who is nominated as being:

  • Responsible for the manuscript as it moves through the entire publication process
  • The ‘time keeper’ during each phase of the publication process 
  • The primary contact between the journal and all the other authors of the paper
  • Responsible for ensuring that all authors have reviewed and approved the final version of the manuscript prior to submission
  • The person who uploads the manuscript to the online submission site, or sends it to the journal for peer review
  • Distributes communications from the journal (e.g., decision letters, reviewers’ reports).

Where should I list the ‘contributors’?

  • These should be named in the ‘Acknowledgments’ section of the paper. These would include individuals who:
  •         Provided technical assistance
  •          Discussed your ideas with you and gave advice
  •         Read early drafts of the paper and gave advice


  •        People who were the subject of the study
  •        Funding sources (this is increasingly important, esp. for ‘open access’).
  • Note, too, that many journals will require you to obtain written permission of the co-authors and contributors to have their names included in the article.
  • It is also important to read the Notes for Contributors for your target journal to ensure that any specific requirements are met.

Additional help and support


Any questions? Charlesworth Author Services can help advise you regarding authorship and whether your paper meets the requirements of your target journal or standard international conventions. Please contact us at asktheeditors@cwauthors.com or helpdesk@cwauthors.com.