To be named as an author on a research output is meritorious. Authorship signifies that an individual has made a significant contribution to the work and is accountable for it. It also carries significant value for a researcher. It is therefore important that authorship is attributed accurately and responsibly.

UQ researchers act in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) and the University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy, which include the following responsibilities related to authorship:

  • Ensure that authors of research outputs are all those, and only those, who have made a significant intellectual or scholarly contribution to the research and its output, and that they agree to be listed as an author

  • Acknowledge those who have contributed to the research

Author eligibility

Attribution of authorship and author order depends to some extent on the discipline. In all cases authorship must be based on a substantive contribution to the work. Researchers should discuss authorship at an early stage in a research project to establish:

  • Who will be listed as an author on potential research outputs
  • The order in which the authors will be listed
  • The responsibilities of each author

Written records of authorship agreements should be kept and reviewed periodically, such as when a researcher leaves or joins the project. 

Authorship eligibility and criteria for UQ researchers is prescribed in the University’s Authorship Procedures. Authorship is not tied to position or profession and will not be offered to those who do not meet the requirements; gift, ghost or honorary authorship is unacceptable. Researchers should also be aware of the authorship guidelines of the publisher to which they are submitting.

Author responsibilities

The contribution of authors to a research publication will often vary. All authors, however, have responsibility for the validity, originality and integrity of the work. The University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and Authorship Procedures set out the responsibilities of all authors, which include:

  • Adhering to author eligibility criteria
  • Ensuring accuracy of reporting and in assigning credit for work contributed
  • Reaching agreement on authorship in writing prior to submission of a work for review
  • Acknowledging the contributions of others, including funding agencies
  • Declaring conflicts of interest

Professor Sara Dolnicar, Research Integrity Advisor, talks about authorship

Authorship disputes

Disputes over authorship sometimes arise. Such disputes can delay research, hinder publication and damage relationships between collaborators. Disputes can be avoided with appropriate communication and by obtaining agreements about authorship early in the research process and regularly reviewing those agreements.

Staff and students who are uncertain or have a concern about authorship principles and practices may talk to a Research Integrity Advisor. Where a dispute arises the University’s Authorship Procedures encourages authors to attempt to resolve it through direct discussion amongst the individuals involved. If this fails to resolve the issue authors should follow the dispute resolution process detailed in the procedure.

Additional resources