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The Author List Challenge

Disagreements over who goes where on an author list are common, but deciding ahead of time how credit will be doled out can limit those arguments, writes Amber Dance at Nature Jobs.

"The force of the dispute usually revolves around the feeling that whatever they did was more important than what the other person did," Stanford University's Stephen Kosslyn tells her.

Some journals and institutions have guidelines regarding authorship, and many of those are based on ones developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Dance adds. According to the ICMJE criteria, to be an author, a researcher "must have been involved in designing the project, collecting data or analysing the results; they must have participated in drafting or revising the manuscript; and they must have approved the final, published paper," Dance says.

The guidelines put forth by the Committee on Publication Ethics suggest that researchers discuss and choose who will be an author on a project's resulting paper before any work is done — and to revisit the question as the project progresses, Dance adds.

Even with guidelines, disputes can arise, and Dance notes that some researchers seek out a third part to mediate. Additionally, credit can be shared as in co-senior authorships.