Authorship Policy

Authorship Policy

This policy describes essential considerations and requirements in responsible authorship and publication and protects the interests of UAB authors in the scientific and scholarly process.
Effective Date:
Responsible Party:
None Assigned
Administrative Category:
Applies To:
Faculty, Staff, Students
Material Original Source:

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Authorship Policy

 August 7, 2014

[Edited May 8, 2017 for change in title]



Related Policies

UAB Enterprise Code of Conduct
UAB Enterprise Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy
Policy Concerning the Responsible Conduct of Research and Other Scholarly Activities


Related Resources

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication
The Committee on Publication Ethics
UAB Ethics for Authors
Statement on Article Publication Resulting from NIH-Funded Research



Scholarly integrity and the responsible conduct and reporting of research and academic works are critical to research and academic progress, to maintaining public trust, and for the public to benefit from discovery.  The University’s commitment in this regard is further supported by the UAB Enterprise Code of Conduct.  Academic publications and presentations must be presented in sufficient detail and accuracy to enable others to understand and challenge the conclusions. For the authors of such work, successful publication improves opportunities for academic funding and promotion while enhancing scientific and scholarly achievement and repute.  At the same time, the benefits of authorship are accompanied by a number of responsibilities for the proper planning, conducting, analysis, and reporting of research and the content and conclusions of other scholarly work.

This purpose of this policy is to describe the essential considerations and requirements in responsible authorship and publication and to protect the interests of UAB authors in the scientific and scholarly process.  These standards were requested and developed by UAB authors for the benefit of UAB authors and are upheld by the entire UAB academic community.


This policy applies to publications by faculty, staff, fellows, residents, postdoctoral and graduate trainees, and students who are employed by or affiliated with UAB and in which the authored work will identify UAB.  For the purposes of this policy, these individuals will collectively be referred to as “author(s)”. 

This policy applies to knowledge disseminated through publications in scientific and scholarly journals, books, monographs, other manuscripts, abstracts and presentations, as well as information contained in grant applications, guidelines, and policy statements intended for the general public, whether in print or distributed in any media or electronic form, including the internet.  The policy also applies to textbooks or other learning resources intended primarily for classroom use.  This policy does not apply to publications in which UAB employees serve solely as editors.


Policy Statement 

Assignment and Responsibilities of Authorship

Authorship should be carefully considered at the initiation of the work’s design and then continuously reviewed during its subsequent conduct and publication.  Authors may be added or deleted based on changes in participation in ongoing work, but the general framework for making those decisions should precede the work’s initiation.


UAB expects each individual named as an author to have made a substantial contribution to the conception, conduct and/or design of the work, and/or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work.  In general, those participants who meet such criteria should be included as authors.  Those participants who do not meet such criteria may be appropriately included in an acknowledgement section of the manuscript.  Individuals should be aware that some publisher’s standards or qualifications for authorship may be stricter than those set forth here.

Further, most authors are responsible for some subset of the original elements (e.g., data) that are the basis of a publication.  In accordance with the UAB Records Retention Policy and Schedule, each author (and/or his/her institution) is required to retain the elements (e.g., original/raw data, analyses, and figures) for which he/she is principally responsible.  Publications that are based on terabytes of data (i.e., “big data”) are typically retained at one site and may not belong to any of the authors.  In these cases, a third party may be considered custodian of the records.  

One author, usually the corresponding author, should be familiar with, and responsible for, the integrity of the entire work.  If the work, or any part thereof, is found to be faulty or fraudulent, all co-authors may share responsibility.  The corresponding author must ensure that all authors have: 

  1. Approved the final version to be published; and
  2. Agreed to be accountable for appropriately addressing questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work. 
Authors should acknowledge all assistance in the conduct of the work being reported, such as technical assistance and assistance of advisors, writers, statistical assessors, figure developers, etc.  They should also acknowledge all support from core facilities, etc., and list grant numbers when appropriate.  Individuals listed in the acknowledgments must agree to be so listed, preferably in writing.
Prohibition against Ghostwriting

While UAB understands that outside assistance may be required to complete a study or a publication, the practice of “ghostwriting” is strictly prohibited.  Ghostwriting is defined as the practice in which the author(s) fail to name as an author of a publication (acknowledge therein) an individual or entity who has made a substantial contribution to the publication.

UAB strictly prohibits authors from engaging in the practice of ghostwriting in which manufacturers (or third party contractors on behalf of the manufacturer) or other entities pay authors to claim authorship of papers or other works which were entirely produced by the entity and for which the author did not have a significant role.

Author Conflict of Interest

All funding sources supporting the work and all institutional or corporate affiliations related to the publication must be disclosed by any author to the editors, publishers, or audience at time of any activity that is included in the definitions section above.  This includes any potential conflict of interest, financial or otherwise (e.g., consultancies, stock ownership, equity interests, patent-licensing arrangements, lack of access to data (to the extent possible under the law and federal policies), lack of control of the decision to publish, or any other potential conflict) that relates to the research, whether the UAB Conflict of Interest Review Board (CIRB) has declared it so or not.  The author's disclosures are required to include any significant financial interests related to the work that were held during the collection of data for a publication or during the writing of the work.  UAB supports full transparency and disclosure by all authors to one’s collaborators and co-authors.  Authors who have commercial associations must assert that they accept full responsibility for the conduct of the trial/research/publication, had full access to all of the data (to the extent possible under the law and federal policies), and controlled the decisions on content and publication. 

Authors should encourage the journal to publish all conflicts for the protection of all authors and the University. 

In cases in which an author has a financial interest in textbooks or other learning materials that are required or recommended for use in UAB classes, that interest must be disclosed to potential purchasers.  Authors should follow school or departmental textbook selection processes to ensure that the pedagogical benefit outweighs the potential conflict. 

Duplicate Publication, Plagiarism, Self-Plagiarism, Fabrication, Falsification

Authors’ works should be original, and no part should have been published elsewhere (except as brief abstracts or in grant applications), unless the authors state in their submission that parts of the submission were previously published (as might be the case in review articles, textbooks, etc.).  Taking material from another’s work and submitting it as one’s own is considered plagiarism and is subject to UAB’s Policy Concerning the Responsible Conduct of Research and Other Scholarly Activities

Taking material (e.g., tables, figures and data) from the author’s own prior publications may be considered duplicate publication or self-plagiarism, unless the duplication is clearly disclosed to the editor and the reader.  In theses and dissertations, students often include their original publication(s) in whole or in part.  This practice is acceptable under this policy, as long as the author discloses the prior publication(s). 

Fabricating, falsifying (including the altering of figures in such a way as to obscure, move, remove, or introduce information or features), and suppressing data to agree with one's conclusions are unacceptable practices.  Such practices are considered misconduct and are subject to UAB’s Policy Concerning the Responsible Conduct of Research and Other Scholarly Activities.

Experiments Involving Animals or Humans
Authors reporting data involving humans or animals must have had approval for the research from the UAB IACUC and/or IRB prior to the conduct of those experiments.  If the work was conducted entirely at another institution, prior approval of that institution’s regulatory oversight board(s) is similarly required.  

In situations in which a dispute over the content or authorship of a publication occurs, and when the dispute cannot be resolved by the authors, the mediation of the Division Director, Department Chair, Dean, or Provost should be requested.  Disputants should always request assistance first from the most direct supervisor unless that individual is perceived to have a conflict of interest in the dispute (e.g., the individual is also an author of the publication).  

Authors occasionally receive inquiries from an editor, grants officer, or other party that relate to the validity of their published works (or grant applications and reports) or those being considered for publication.  The University has resources to aid authors in appropriately responding to such queries if they potentially involve allegations of scientific misconduct (e.g., falsification or fabrication of data, plagiarism, etc.).  If an author receives such an inquiry or possible allegation, the author should contact the University’s Research Integrity Officer at the Office of the Vice-President for Research and/or report the allegation to his/her immediate supervisor.  

Authorship Affiliation for External Activities

In accordance with the UAB Enterprise Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy, UAB employees request advance approval of external activities with external entities as an independent contractor, advisor, employee, consultant, or other work-for-hire for direct compensation.  If an individual authors or co-authors publications or reports emanating from such external activities, as a matter of transparency, his/her university affiliation should be disclosed.  However, he/she must make clear to the journal and reader that the work was performed and the publication or report was produced in his/her capacity with the external entity.  In accordance with the UAB Faculty Handbook, when participating in such activities, the individual should not allow the name of the University of Alabama at Birmingham to appear in any such manner as to indicate that UAB is participating in, or in any way is sponsoring, the activity or the project.  Furthermore, any university support (e.g., staff support, etc.) provided to the individual while working in his/her capacity with the external entity must adhere to the Policy Concerning the Use of UAB Resources

Disciplinary Action

Confirmed violations of this policy are also violations of the UAB Enterprise Code of Conduct, and as applicable the Policy Concerning the Responsible Conduct of Research and Other Scholarly Activities, and will result in further action and/or consequences, as described by these policies. 


The Provost is responsible for procedures to implement this policy.