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Defining authorship

Co-authors, corresponding authors, and affiliations

co-author is any person who has made a significant contribution to a journal article, and who shares responsibility and accountability for the results. If an article is written by more than one author, you’ll choose one person to be the corresponding author. This person will handle all correspondence about the article and sign the publishing agreement on behalf of all the authors. The corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that all the authors’ contact details are correct. You should all agree on the order in which your names are published in the article, and ensure that your affiliations are correct, as explained below.

How common is co-authorship and what are the challenges faced by those who collaborate? Our white paper, Co-authorship in the Humanities and Social Sciences: A global view, explores the experiences of 894 researchers from 62 countries.

If you are a named co-author, this means that:

  1. You have made a significant contribution to the work reported, whether that’s in the research conception or design, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation, or in all these areas.
  2. You have drafted, written, or revised the article.
  3. You have reviewed and agreed the final version of the article before submission.
  4. You have agreed on the journal to which your article will be submitted.
  5. You are aware that you are taking responsibility and accountability for the content of the article.
  6. You are aware that the corresponding author will be acting on your behalf in any communication about the article, through submission, peer review, production, and after publication.
  7. In line with standard publishing ethics, if your article is found to be unsafe, in error, in some way fraudulent, or in breach of the publishing agreement, that responsibility is shared by all named co-authors.
Every submission to our medical and health science journals should comply with the International Committee on Medical Journal Ethics’ definition of authorship. Any other form of specific personal contribution should be included in the acknowledgments section of your paper.

Affiliations: get it right

Your affiliation in the manuscript should be the institution where the research was conducted, and you should include details of any funding received from them. If you have changed affiliation since completing the research, your new affiliation can be acknowledged in a note. Changes to affiliation cannot normally be made after the article is accepted.


  1. After your article has been accepted, if you need to change the co-authors for any reason you should write to the editor of the journal, with a clear reason for the change. This letter must come from all the authors, including the person being added or removed. The editor will need to agree to the change.
  2. If the corresponding author changes before the article is published (i.e., if a co-author becomes the corresponding author), please write to the editor of the journal and the production editor, confirming that both authors have agreed the change.
  3. No changes to the co-authors or corresponding authors can be made after publication of the article, either online as a “latest article” or in the issue. Instead, a correction notice may be considered by the journal editor.

Agree your corresponding author and the order of co-authors, and check all affiliations and contact details before submitting.