BMJ policy on authorship


The ICMJE Recommendations state that authorship credit requires:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data.
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
  • Final approval of the version published.
  • 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.

All of these conditions must be met. Each 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. Any individuals listed as co-authors on a manuscript will receive email confirmation of the manuscript submission. It is the collective responsibility of the authors to determine that all people named as authors meet all four criteria.

Participation solely in the acquisition of funding, the collection of data or general supervision of the research group does not justify authorship. We wish authors to assure us that all authors included on a paper fulfil the criteria of authorship. Conversely we also ask for assurance that there is no one else who fulfils the criteria that has been excluded as an author.

Submitting author information

On submission of your article through our submission system you will be asked to provide a name, email address and institutional affiliation for all contributing authors. 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.

Acknowledging contributors

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided general supervision of a research group or general administrative support, writing assistance, technical editing, language editing and proofreading. Financial and material support should also be acknowledged. Please ensure that anyone acknowledged has granted permission to be listed.

Groups of persons who have contributed materially to the paper but whose contributions do not justify authorship may be listed as Collaborators (e.g. ‘Clinical Investigators’), and their contribution 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”.

As readers may infer their endorsement of the data and conclusions, all persons must give written permission to be acknowledged in the manuscript.


Group authorship

If there is a very large number of authors we may ask for confirmation that everyone listed met the ICMJE criteria for authorship. If they did, we may then suggest that the authors form a group whose name will appear in the article byline. If the author list includes a group name, MEDLINE will list the names of individual group members who are authors or collaborators (sometimes called non-author contributors) if there is a note associated with the byline clearly stating that the individual names are elsewhere in the paper and whether those names are authors or collaborators.


Contributorship statement

A contributorship statement is required for every manuscript submitted and should outline who has contributed what to the planning, conduct, and reporting of the work described in the article. This should include both authors and contributors.


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 author details section of the manuscript. Further information can be provided in the contributorship statement if necessary.


Change of affiliation

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. For clarity, the change of affiliation can be explained in an acknowledgements section.


Alteration to authorship

Any change in authors after initial submission 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.


Deceased authors

Deceased persons deemed appropriate as authors should be included with a dagger symbol (†) next to the author’s name, and a footnote stating that the author is deceased and giving the date of their death e.g. †Deceased 10 October 2014.