Authorship and contributorship
This policy ensures that contributors who have made substantive intellectual contributions to an article are given credit and that contributors understand their role in taking responsibility and being accountable for what is published. Contributors are either author contributors (meaning that they meet all four authorship criteria – see below) or non-author contributors.
BMJ credits and lists contributors in two ways:
- Authorship – we publish a list of authors’ names at the beginning of the paper in the byline
- Contributorship – we publish a contributorship statement at the end of the paper, giving details of who did what in planning, conducting, and reporting the work. This should include all author contributors and may include non-author contributors.
We also publish an acknowledgements statement at the end of the paper, detailing those who helped in carrying out the research but that have not been recognised as contributors, and for personal expressions of gratitude.
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations 2019) recommend that authorship be based on the following four 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 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.
BMJ requires that all those designated as authors should meet all four ICMJE criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as author contributors. We recognise only natural persons (an individual human being, as opposed to a private or public organisation) as authors. These authorship criteria are intended to reserve the status of authorship for those who deserve credit and can take responsibility for the work. The criteria should not be used to disqualify colleagues from authorship who otherwise meet authorship criteria by denying them the opportunity to meet criterion number 2 or 3. Therefore, all individuals who meet the first criterion should have the opportunity to participate in the review, drafting and final approval of the manuscript.
Contributors who have contributed materially to the paper but whose contributions do not justify authorship should be described clearly in the contributorship statement.
In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work they have done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.
Submitting authors should provide assurance that all authors included on a paper fulfil the criteria of authorship. We also ask for assurance that there is no one else who fulfils the criteria that has been excluded as an author.
When we encounter disagreements among authors we follow guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).
The submitting author takes primary responsibility for submitting the article to the journal using our manuscript submission system ScholarOne and for communicating with the journal during the article submission, peer review and revision process. They ensure that all of the journal’s administrative requirements are properly completed. These include, but are not limited to, providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation, and gathering conflict of interest forms and statements. These tasks may be delegated to one or more co-authors, but the submitting author remains responsible for them.
When you submit your article through our submission system you will be asked to provide a name, email address and institutional affiliation for all author contributors. In the final published article author names, institutions and addresses will be taken from these completed fields and not from the submitted Word document.
Affiliations listed should be those where the work was carried out at the time the research/article was written. If institution details appear incorrectly these can be directly amended under ‘Actions’ by selecting the ‘Edit’ drop down next to each author.
All author contributors receive a confirmation email when an article has been submitted and when a final decision is made.
The submitting author should assign the corresponding author when providing author details (see below for more information about the corresponding author role). The submitting author and corresponding author can be the same person.
The corresponding author, as listed on ScholarOne, takes primary responsibility for completing all necessary actions after acceptance of the manuscript and communicating with the journal and with readers after publication. All email communication from BMJ will be sent to the corresponding author including:
- The timeline for your article proof with a link to Publishing at Work where you can track your article’s status
- If your article will be published open access or in colour in the print edition of the journal, you will receive an email from Rightslink with payment options and instructions. If you are not making the payment yourself, you may forward the email to the person or organisation that will be paying on your behalf
- A link to review and approve the proof when available
- Confirmation that your article has been published online
- Notifications when a response has been posted to your article
Find out more about what to expect when your article has been accepted.
Although we include only one corresponding author on ScholarOne for email communication, multiple authors can be listed with correspondence information in the author byline of the final published article. This information can be included at the article proof stage, after acceptance.
Joint first authorship
Joint first authors can be indicated by the inclusion of the statement ‘X and X contributed equally to this paper’ in the contributorship statement.
Collaborators (group authorship)
Collaborators are a large group of multi-author contributors (e.g. a specific consortium, committee, study group or the like). Collaborators should decide who will be an author before the work is started and confirm who is an author before submitting the manuscript for publication. All members of the group named as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship as detailed above. They will also be expected as individuals to complete conflict-of-interest disclosure forms.
BMJ will list the author group name(s) in the author byline, with the full list of individual names included in a collaborator statement at the end of the article. Details of the group’s contributions should also be listed in the contributorship statement. If the journal is indexed in PubMed (MEDLINE and/or PubMed Central), the group name will be listed in the author byline and the names of individual group members entered as collaborators on the PubMed record to ensure individual due credit.
Deceased persons deemed appropriate as authors should be highlighted to the Editorial Assistant when submitting your article and should also be included in your contributorship statement.
Alteration to authorship
If an author’s affiliation has changed during the course of the work, the author may either list the affiliation at the time that the research (or most significant portion of the research) was conducted, or their current affiliation, or both. The change of affiliation can be explained in an acknowledgements section.
Any change in authors after initial submission and before publication must be approved by all authors. This applies to additions, deletions, a change of order to the authors’ names or a change to the attribution of contributions. Any alterations must be explained to the Editor. The Editor may contact any of the authors and/or contributors to ascertain whether they have agreed to any alteration.
A contributorship statement is required for every article submitted and should outline who has contributed what to the planning, conduct and reporting of the work described in the article. A contributorship statement should include author contributors, non author contributors and group author contributors (collaborators). Contributors who have contributed materially to the paper but whose contributions do not justify authorship should be described clearly in the contributorship statement; for example, “served as scientific advisors”, “critically reviewed the study proposal”, “collected data” or “provided and cared for study patients”.
Researchers must determine among themselves the precise nature of each person’s contribution, and we encourage open discussion among all participants to reach a consensus.
This is also the appropriate place to include contributions by patients or members of the public who have assisted as research volunteers, giving their names and specific roles. We encourage authors to fully acknowledge the contribution of patients and the public to their research where appropriate.
All individuals named in the contributorship statement must give permission to be included, as readers may infer their endorsement of the data and conclusions of the paper. It is the responsibility of the submitting author to ensure that permission is obtained and to be able to provide evidence of this if required.
Each contributorship statement must make clear who is responsible for the overall content as guarantor. The guarantor accepts full responsibility for the finished work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.
An acknowledgements statement may be included at the end of the paper, detailing those who helped in carrying out the research but who have not been recognised as contributors, as well as for personal expressions of gratitude.
Author name change requests
As an inclusive publisher, BMJ wishes to ensure a smooth process and experience to facilitate author name changes after publication. For more information on how to request an author name change in an existing publication see our corrections policies.
Last updated: July 2021