Authorship Policy

Original Policy Source APPM Section 1 Item 14
Responsible Division Academic Affairs
Primary Audience Faculty
Status Active
Effective Adoption Date 11-06-2017
Policy Category/Categories Faculty & Academics
Research Ethics / Intellectual Property


Scholarly integrity and the responsible conduct and reporting of research are essential for maintaining public trust in the research enterprise and for community benefit from research discovery.  This policy sets forth principles of authorship to provide clear guidelines related to authorship of scholarly publications. 


Scholarly publications include (and are not limited to) books, articles, abstracts, presentations at professional meetings, and grant applications.  This includes other dissemination of written findings, thoughts and analyses.

Applies To

All Northern Illinois University (NIU) employees and faculty members, and students, who are/were employed by or acted as an agent of or affiliated (by agreement) with the research. 


NIU adopts the ethical principles embodied in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts, composed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, as revised in 2004 

  1. There are three conditions that typically qualify a researcher to be eligible for authorship:
    1. substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
    2. drafting or revising the article or contributing critically important intellectual content to the article; and
    3. final approval of the version to be published.

      Any researcher that has satisfied the first and second conditions must be given the opportunity to approve the version to be published and must have the opportunity to be included as an author.
  2. All individuals who qualify for authorship should be listed. However, any person can refuse to be an author if (s)he elects to do so. 
  3. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
  4. Multi-center projects should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. These individuals should each meet all three (3) conditions for authorship given above in A. When submitting a group authored manuscript, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and should clearly identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Other members of the group may be named in the acknowledgements. 

    There are occasions when multiple, equal contributions lead to more than one co-contributing lead authors.  In cases where there are co-contributing lead authors, all assume the lead author responsibilities. 

II. Co-Authors

All co-authors of a publication are responsible for:

  1. Authorship: By providing consent to authorship to the lead author, co-authors acknowledge that they meet the authorship criteria set forth in this Policy.  A co-author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
  2. Approval: By providing consent to authorship to the lead author, co-authors are acknowledging that they have reviewed and approved the manuscript.
  3. Integrity: Each co-author is responsible for the content of all appropriate portions of the manuscript, including the integrity of any applicable research.

An individual retains the right to refuse co-authorship of a manuscript if he or she does not satisfy the criteria for authorship.  It is recommended that individuals who do not satisfy the criteria for authorship should, in fact, refuse co-authorship of such manuscripts to avoid honorary or guest authorship.

III. Acknowledgements

Individuals who may have made some contribution to a publication, but who do not meet the definition of author, such as staff, editorial assistants, case writers, those providing technical assistance or other individuals, can provide a valuable contribution to the writing and editing of publications.  Since those contributions do not meet the criteria for authorship under this Policy, it is recommended that those individuals should be listed in an acknowledgment and/or contributorship section of the work.  Acknowledgments may also be acceptable and appropriate for administrative relationships, acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of a research group when these alone do not constitute authorship.

IV Unacceptable Authorship

NIU encourages proper forms of authorship to serve as ideal role models for its students, post-doctoral fellows, trainees, staff and faculty.  Accordingly, guest, gift and ghost authorship are inconsistent with the definition of authorship and unacceptable under this Policy

  1. Guest authorship (e., honorary, courtesy or prestige authorship) is granting authorship to an individual who does not meet the definition of author out of appreciation or respect for the individual, or in the belief that expert standing of the guest will increase the likelihood of publication, credibility, or status of the work.
  2. Gift authorship is credit, offered from a sense of obligation, tribute, or dependence, within the context of an anticipated benefit, to an individual who has not contributed to the work.
  3. Ghost authorship is the failure to identify as an author someone who made substantial contributions (e., meeting the definition of authorship) to the research or writing of a manuscript.

V. Authorship Order

The order of authors is a collective decision of the authors or study group.  This Policy does not address questions or disputes regarding the order of authorship on publications.  While it is not possible for NIU to define the order of authorship in every situation, this Policy advises that co-authors in conjunction with the lead author discuss authorship order at the onset of the project and revise their decision as needed.  All authors must work together to make these informed judgments.

Should authors fail to resolve disputes about the order of authors, this Policy suggests that the affected individual seek counsel from his or her section or division director, department chair, dean, graduate school or the Office for Research Compliance, Integrity, and Safety (ORCIS).  The appropriate division, department and/or section leadership should mediate in an effort to resolve the dispute.  If not successful, such mediation should be addressed by the school’s dean. For additional guidance, see  “Guidelines for Avoiding and Resolving Authorship Disputes

VI. Financial Conflicts of Interest

Authors shall fully disclose, in all manuscripts to journals, grant applications, and at professional meetings, all relevant financial interests that could be viewed as a potential conflict of interest or as required by NIU and/or journal. All such financial interests must also be reported internally.

VII. Violations of this Policy

Knowing, intentional, or reckless violations of this policy may be considered plagiarism and fall under NIU’s research misconduct policy and as such, will be referred to the Research Integrity Officer.

Violations of the policy that do not rise to the level of research misconduct may subject the individual to corrective action or other sanctions as deemed appropriate by the Vice President for Research. Disagreements regarding the order of authorship do not, in and of themselves, constitute a violation of this policy or research misconduct.


  • 42 CFR Part 93 Public Health Service Policy on Research Misconduct (PDF)
  • Northwestern University draft guidance on Authorship
  • Medical College of Wisconsin’s policy for Authorship on Scientific and Scholarly Publications.
  • International Committee of Medical Journal Editor’s Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in Medical Journals.
  • Committee on Publication Ethics (CORE), Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, June 2015
  • Rush University Medical Center Authorship Policy
  • Washington University Policy for Authorship


There are no comments to show.

Back to top of page