Skip to content

Policy 7-020: Determining Authorship in Scholarly or Scientific Publications.

Revision 0. Effective date: April 13, 2021

View PDF

  1. Purpose and Scope
  2. Definitions
  3. Policy
    1. Criteria for Determining Authorship
    2. Policy Implementation
    3. Authorship Disputes and Resolution
  4. Policies/ Rules, Procedures, Guidelines, Forms and other Related ResourcesReferences
  5. References
  6. Contacts
  7. History

  1. Purpose and Scope‌

    1. Purpose.

      An important component of ensuring the integrity of the research and scholarly enterprise is determining authorship, because determination of authorship provides evidence of assigning responsibility and giving credit for intellectual work. Authorship credit should be given to those who contribute to and participate in substantive ways to scholarly and scientific work, and the relative credit given should honestly and accurately reflect actual contributions. Fair and equitable determination of authorship is important to the reputation, academic promotion, and funding support of the individuals involved, and to the strength and reputation of the authors’ respective institutions.

      Authorship confers credit for contributions and has important academic, social, and financial implications. Authorship also implies responsibility and accountability for published work. The University recognizes that authorship is important for faculty academic careers and the lack of clear guidance for determining authorship may lead to unnecessary conflicts among contributors. Disagreements sometimes arise regarding who should ultimately be named as an author of or contributor to intellectual work and the relative order in which individuals should be listed. Some of these disputes are a result of failure of early communication and expectation-setting.

      This Policy is meant to provide both procedures and a set of standards that are shared by the University’s academic community as a whole, to help facilitate open communication through adherence to common principles. These principles apply to all intellectual products, whether published or prepared for internal use or for broad dissemination.

      Designing an ethical and transparent approach to determining authorship for publication of research results is primarily the responsibility of the principal investigator(s). This Policy and its associated Regulations are intended to outline the ethical responsibilities of the investigator(s), and describe some of the University of Utah resources available to support implementation of the principles outlined herein.

    2. Scope.

      This Policy applies to all faculty members, students, postdoctoral fellows and other non-faculty academic-employees (see Policy 6-309), and staff employees of the University of Utah.

      This Policy regarding authorship is not intended to directly govern issues of the ownership of data and materials produced in the course of research activities, which issues are instead governed by other University Regulations. (See Policy 7-002 for patents and inventions and Policy 7-003 for Copyright ownership).

      This Policy is intended to be implemented through associated Regulations, and Guidance documents developed by the relevant administrative officers (primarily the Vice President for Research). The Policy will be reviewed every five years by the Academic Senate for revisions and changes as needed for determining authorship.

      Because the University recognizes that authorship practices may be very different for different disciplines and attempting to apply specific requirements regarding determination of authorship over multiple disciplines would not be the appropriate approach, this Policy sets forth certain generally applicable principles, and then requires the various academic units of the University to develop internal regulations appropriate for the particular disciplines, in the form of Supplemental Rules supplementing this Policy. In the event a particular academic unit does not develop internal regulations appropriate for its discipline, the principles and rules set forth herein, and in the accompanying Guideline(s) will govern.

  2. Definitions‌

    The following definitions apply for the limited purposes of this policy and any associated regulations.

    1. Authorship confers intellectual credit, responsibility, and accountability for published work.

  3. Policy‌

    1. Criteria for Determining Authorship.‌

      1. Supplemental Rules of internal policies developed by departments or other academic units.

        1. Each academic department or other academic unit (as described in Policy 6- 001) whose members regularly participate in research/creative activity shall adopt a written internal policy to govern determinations of authorship for the members of the faculty, non-faculty academic personnel, staff, and students of that academic unit, which must be consistent with this Policy 7-020 and other University Regulations, and should be consistent with the established practices of the academic discipline(s). It is recommended that the principles and criteria for determining authorship follow those of the leading academic societies and journals relevant to the unit's academic discipline(s).

        2. The internal policy of each unit (and any subsequent revision) should be approved by the voting faculty members of the academic unit. An internal policy may be approved by the voting faculty of each academic department and each other unit within an entire college. If so approved, it will function as a college-wide internal policy.

        3. Once so approved by the relevant voting faculty, the internal policy will constitute a Supplemental Rule of the academic unit for implementation of this Policy 7-020 (see Policy 1-001 describing such supplemental rules). A copy of the current Supplemental Rule of each unit shall be provided to the unit administrator and college dean (or equivalent positions), office for Faculty Affairs, and the office of the Vice President for Research, and shall be included with the documentation provided by the unit for each seven-year review (commonly known as a Graduate Council Review). The consistency of practices under that Supplemental Rule shall be considered in such seven- year reviews of the academic unit. The unit’s administrators should make reasonable efforts to ensure that faculty members, and other members of the unit regularly participating in research/creative activities are aware of the unit’s internal policy and practices.

      2. University-wide Recommended Criteria. The University recommends that determinations of authorship be based on the following four criteria, defined by the International Committee for Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE):

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

        2. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content;

        3. Final approval of the version to be published; and

        4. 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.

      3. Resources for Additional Criteria. The Office of the Vice President for Research may advise members of the University community regarding other available resources for developing clear criteria. Currently those resources include the following (and this list may be updated as an editorial correction of this Policy at the direction of the Vice President for Research).

        1. The International Committee for Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) provides comprehensive instruction on authorship which may be accessed on its website (at

        2. The Consortia Advancing Standards in research Administration Information (CASRAI) highlights activities that individuals must complete to be considered a contributor to intellectual work (available at

        3. The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends developing a contract for authorship, and provides a model form (available at: agreement.pdf).

    2. Policy Implementation.‌

      1. Successful implementation of this Policy and associated Regulations relies on a commitment to collegiality and open, frank, consistent communication and expectation-setting throughout the research and scholarly process. Integral to implementation of these Regulations are the following:

        1. Research groups should discuss authorship credit/criteria, presentation of joint work, and future directions of the research as early as practical, and frequently, during the course of their work. These discussions should involve explicit review of expectations of continued collaboration if a contributor who would normally be considered an author leaves the project or leaves the institution during the conduct of the work. The principal investigator or scholarly leader should initiate these discussions; however, any collaborator may raise questions or seek clarity throughout the course of the collaboration. Each laboratory or research group may consider having a written guiding document in place, consistent with this Policy and any relevant Supplemental Rule of an academic unit, and with guidance of the Vice President for Research.

        2. Collaborators are expected to adhere to good laboratory, archival and scholarly practices, including maintaining a complete laboratory notebook, research notes and annotating electronic files, as these practices will aide in identifying and clarifying individuals’ contributions to a project.

        3. Disposition of collaborative data and research materials should be mutually agreed upon among collaborators as early as practical and in accordance with any data-sharing and retention requirements in the academic unit.

        4. Laboratory groups, academic departments, and other academic units or programs supporting research/creative activity at the University should include in any procedure manuals a copy of relevant Regulations, including this Policy 7-020 and any associated Guidelines, the applicable internal policies (Supplemental Rules) of relevant academic units, and if applicable a description of the group’s own customary ways of deciding who should be an author and the order in which authors are listed. Those materials should be included in orientation of new members.

        5. Discussion of the principles of authorship as described in this Policy 7- 020 and associated Regulations, and other relevant University and academic unit policies should be integrated into any course regarding responsible conduct of research that is taught at the University.

    3. Authorship Disputes and Resolution.‌

      1. Conflicts related to authorship may arise at any time during the research or scholarly process, resulting from differing perceptions of one’s contributions and resulting attribution of credit. The University seeks to have dispute resolution procedures which lead to timely effective resolutions, facilitate excellence in research/creative activity, support collegial respectful relationships among participants, and in other respects serve the bests interests of the University. The University encourages parties to attempt the resolution of the dispute by working with the Office for Faculty in the office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Office of Academic Affairs and Faculty Development in office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, or the Graduate School to mediate between the parties. If such agreement cannot be reached the case will be referred to the Office of the Vice President of Research, that will have the primary administrative role in developing Rules, Procedures, or Guidance documents for dispute resolution methods to serve those ends, consistent with this Policy. If any party consider that his/her authorship rights have not been asserted by the decision of the VPR, by either not including the party as an author or by diluting his/her contribution to the work by the addition of authors to the work, the affected party can claim that his/her faculty rights have been affected by the VPR decision. The party will be able to seek further review of the case by the Senate Consolidated Hearing Committee (SCHC) under section III.B.3 (Complaint alleging violation of Faculty Code) of Policy 6-011. In the appeal the affected party should clearly indicate how the provision of the Faculty Code (Policy 6-316) section 4.C, 3-6 would apply to the case. The SCHC will make a final recommendation to the office of the President who will enforce recommendations. (Note that if a dispute involves an allegation of fabrication or falsification of data or plagiarism the dispute is subject to—Policy 7-001 Policy for Research Misconduct.)

        Sections IV- VII are for user information and are not subject to the approval of the Academic Senate or the Board of Trustees. The Institutional Policy Committee, the Policy Owner, or the Policy Officer may update these sections at any time.

  4. Policies/ Rules, Procedures, Guidelines, Forms and other Related Resources‌

    1. Policies/ Rules. [ reserved ]

    2. Procedures, Guidelines, and Forms.

      1. Guideline G7-020A: Determining Authorship in Scholarly or Scientific Publications including Resolution of Disputes Regarding Authorship

    3. Other Related Resources. [ reserved ]

  5. References‌


  6. Contacts‌

    The designated contact officials for this Regulation are

    1. Policy Owner(s) (primary contact person for questions and advice): Associate Vice President for Research Integrity and Compliance

    2. Policy Officer(s): Vice President for Research

      See Rule 1-001 for information about the roles and authority of policy owners and policy officers.

  7. History‌

    Revision History.

    1. Current version. Revision 0.

      1. Approved by Academic Senate March 29, 2021 and Board of Trustees April 13, 2021, with Effective Date of April 13, 2021.

      2. Legislative History

      3. Editorial Revisions

        1. Editorially revised July 7, 2022 to move to current regulations template.

    2. Previous versions.

    3. Renumbering

      1. Not Applicable.

Last Updated: 9/26/22