Authorship Disputes

It is main goal of OARS to minimize immoral behavior which offers countermeasures for the offending people with guidelines to avert such conflicts. This guide is prepared after consulting experts to help novice researchers for authorship area to come out from all the confusions. The conclusion may be written but may be difficult to publish. We therefore, eagerly await feedback to make necessary improvements in this guide to make it a user-friendly.

Theoretically, authorship indicates “bitter truths” but it is really very stressful task. While studying, it was observed that deserving person was not given any credit while persons not contributing got recognition.

Authors list reflects identity of the persons worked so that it justifies giving rights and responsibility to the real person. There may be difference of opinion among editors regarding authorship and usually they take guidance from reliable sources.

The study reveals that editors’ need differs from authors’ contribution and does not match with each other.

The authors can only be trustworthy. They claim that if the scientists are not honestly performing their his tasks, it challenges trust in reporting work.

This guide enables researchers to avoid and solve author related issues. It suggests various ways to settle disputes with concrete solutions for author related problems.
The key to minimize authorship issues.

People generally lie about authorship in two ways

  • By putting down names of people who took little or no part in the research  (gift authorship, see below)by leaving out names of people who did take part (ghost authorship, see below).
  • Sometimes misrepresentation is observed

It is always better to adopt principle “Prevention is better than cure” which can be practiced with the help of following rules.

Usually, immoral authors follow indigenous tradition. In case we want to motivate morals of authors, they should be informed the editors’ opinion so that old tradition may get discontinued. We can have reading room well equipped with latest book on authorship policy. In case, there is no such book, you can take initiative and publish one.

It is always favorable to organize meeting with authors to share information and ideas of research and publications with the latest meeting outcome. We can also decide the details of role to be played by each and every concerned team members which should also include new members. It is advisable to have written minutes of meeting for future reference.

Authorship disputes mainly caused due to lack of proper communication which leads none knows who is supposed to do what. To avoid such dispute, you should always hold a meeting with all the concerned and have a written consent and update all the members all the changes with a written memo.

In order to prevent or to minimize conflicts, it is advisable to have written authorship agreement before beginning the process of article writing. It may annoy some members who never like to be held responsible.  Editor is supposed to be practical and professional instead of emotional.

Authorship differences may be of two categories

Concerned editors are answerable for whatever is published in their Research Journals. This means the Journal editors

  • People who obeys OARS guidelines but do not act i.e. dispute
  • People who violates OARS guidelines intentionally i.e. misbehavior

This needs vast clarifications or understanding whether the victim author [whose name was omitted] contributed reasonably. In case, you’re superior instructs you to add or delete some author’s name and you do not agree then first of all try to convince him politely your viewpoints without being aggressive. If required, please show him documentary proof viz. Guidelines to Authors, documents, laboratory notepads etc.  If your superior is still not convinced then you may seek intervention of his senior boss i.e. Head of Department or Dean. This should be avoided as much as possible but please share your intention with your superior and take him into confidence before contacting senior most person.

Whenever you feel that anybody is trying to violate authorship rules, you can either keep silence or allow him to do whatever he wants or you may warn him as it may harm your career or it may create fund problem in future. In such case,

  • you are advised to bring the facts i.e. bad intentions of concerned author to all concerned team members in a meeting, to avert scientific misbehavior
  • Be practical, professional and assertive with all the facts in writing and keep records in safe custody.
  • Convey author that his publication may be rejected

Please concentrate on consequences if the authorship conflicts are not solved. Authorship can act as key in negotiation if the concerned people disagree. In case, you want to withdraw your name, please ensure that final version is shown to all the authors. Although it may be tough task because either you will have to sacrifice the credit of good work done by you or you may be held responsible for something wrong even if you are innocent.

You are supposed to contact other authors [if before publication] at the earliest, if your name is included without your consent and after publication, you can contact journal for printing corrigendum /erratum. In the same way, if your name is not included, you are required to share your concern with other contributors. Journal can also be contacted but it may not be fruitful without consent of other authors. In case, name is not included due to error but all the concerned authors are agreed to include your name, then corrigendum can be published by journal to include the name.

Thoughts w.r.t. authorship acknowledgements

Usually, a journal motivates contributors [who are not authors] by showing their name in “Acknowledgments” with brief description of contribution. In U.S.A., journals are having practice of getting signatures of all the persons whose names are appearing in “Acknowledgments”.


One can approach journal to withdraw / delete his name if the same has been included without his consent. Generally, editors are discouraging disputes relating to name inclusions and omissions. Some journals have regulators to resolve disputes but they mainly deal in misbehavior related issues.


Journal guidelines clarify that authors should declare their inputs and editors should publish the same. Some journal follows this but others do not who need guarantee for the fulfillment of norms.

Main author

This is mainly an administrative job which is assigned to an author [may be based on seniority] whose contact details are not likely to be changed in near future and printed on the article and who is supposed to receive/reply relevant information regarding reviewers’ remarks, proofs etc., can provide reprints  to needy, can get in touch with research group.

First and last contributor

Usually, authors insist to show their name in the 1st position in the Authors list, but it should be based on the quantum of contribution to the research. Some journal follows reverse practice that shows important and senior person’s name in last whose contribution   was   magnanimous. Some destructive minded people create doubts that final author is usually a guest or honorary author who may have contributed financially or politically.

Ghost contributorship

This title is attributed to the writers who are qualified but their names do not appear in the authors list. These people are paid their remuneration by commercial promoters. Non-inclusion may lead to dispute hence it is advised to include their names for their valuable contribution to research project.

Gift contributorship

When authors list includes the names of persons who has not contributed anything but some indirect favor is expected from him. This normally practiced to please senior most people.

Group contributorship

Some journal allows using group names or alphabetically sorted list of author’s names. Group name sometimes create problem of miscoding of records and in case of alphabetically sorted list does not serve the purpose. It does not give importance to 1st author whose contribution is more.


As the journal comprises of various technical aspects and expert of each field plays equally important role in their field. It will be unjustified to hold someone responsible for all the technical issues. Hence editors decided to each person should take liability of his own field and one person should be given overall responsibility to ensure trustworthiness of entire project. It should be main criteria for authors that they should be qualified in order to get their names listed in author list and their contribution/involvement/responsibility should be sufficient enough to achieve trustworthiness.

Author guideline

Since the authorship matters plays vital role in journal editors agreement, and the requirements vary from journal to journal.  One should judiciously study instructions to authors to achieve high quality publication of a journal.

Number of contributors

As there is no specific rule, there are various opinions about number of editors. Some favors lesser no. whereas some prefers higher number. It is always advisable to include the names of all the qualified authors who have considerably contributed. This is also to be noted that it takes lots of additional time to prepare, review and to finalize where large number of authors are to be included.

Number of contributors

The sequence of authors’ name to be listed should be mutually agreed by concerned authors with justifications. The mutual consent to be obtained from all concerned authors well before starting the project. Some peoples prepares alphabetical sorted list with a description indicating uniform contribution in all aspects. This practice needs to be cleared by editor to avoid conflicts.