What is an author?

Let’s consider different interpretations of the term author. The ALLEA approach is very broad and for instance, this definition would imply that simply collecting the data would suffice for authorship.

Another approach is by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. “The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 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” (ICMJE, 2017).

This view is very strict and according to these criteria, someone who only heavily revises the manuscript for important intellectual content is not an author.

A more generous interpretation of the term author is used by the journal Neurology.

“Neurology defines an author as a person who has made a substantive intellectual contribution to the submitted manuscript. A substantive contribution includes one or more of the following:

·         Design or conceptualization of the study

·         OR analysis or interpretation of the data

·         OR drafting or revising the manuscript for intellectual content” (Neurology)

Here we see two different approaches for the notion of authorship and as a result, we can conclude that there is no concrete, uniformly accepted notion.

For a review on research on the various aspects of authorship, the reader is referred to (Marusic et al., 2011).