Authorship Guidelines

July 22, 2020

Authorship Guidelines for members and collaborators of the Wildlife Space-Use Ecology Research group (Tal Avgar’s lab at Utah State University)

The following has been adopted and adapted from the authorship guidelines of the British Sociological Association (2001;, and form the authorship guidelines drafted by Noelle Beckman’s Seedscape Ecology lab (

Please note that these guidelines are by no means ‘written in stone’; they are meant to serve as a starting point for discussion and may be revisited and revised at any time.

General Points

  • Authorship and order of authors should be discussed between researchers at an early stage in any project and renegotiated as necessary. This should include discussion of equity, diversity and inclusivity, perceived power dynamics, the role of privilege in authorship and opportunities to contribute. It is important to acknowledge that authorship is not equally available, nor does it equally benefit all contributors. It is important to discuss who has been, or will be, given an opportunity to contribute, and why. Early drafts of papers should include authorship and other credits to help resolve any future disputes.
  • Students have the right to publish papers independently of their supervisors. Where students are working as part of a larger project team, or where joint supervisor/student publications are proposed, questions of intellectual property rights should be carefully considered. Students are expected to discuss with their supervisor any time/resource investments they are making towards projects the supervisor is not otherwise involved in.
  • The first author is responsible for complying with the peer-review guidelines of their own agency. Co-authors are responsible for negotiating a peer-review process that also meets the requirements of their own respective agencies. The goal is to move the paper as quickly as possible from draft form to journal submission, without violating the peer-review requirements of any of the co-authors.
  • The corresponding author is typically, but not always, the first author. The corresponding author is responsible for managing the submission, including sharing the final manuscript and cover letter with all co-authors before submission, submitting the manuscript, forwarding manuscript decisions and reviews to all co-authors, and responding to reviewer comments.

Attributing Authorship

  • Authorship should be reserved for those, and only those, who have made significant intellectual contribution to the research or manuscript writing (but see exceptions). Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or general supervision of the research group is not sufficient for authorship. Decisions about who should be an author are made by the first and senior authors, in consultation with other authors.
  • Everyone who is listed as an author should have made a substantial direct academic contribution (i.e. intellectual responsibility and substantive work) to at least two of the four main components of a typical scientific project or paper:
    1. Conception or design of the study (including leading the effort to fund the study).
    2. Data collection and processing
    3. Analysis and interpretation of the data
    4. Writing the manuscript
  • The only two exceptions are (but see the following conditions):
    • A situation where the person who collected the data for a different study/intent is willing to share these data towards a publication, and is hence not making substantial contributions towards (1), (3), or (4).
    • A situation where a person has made substantial logistical contributions to the implementation of the study design or data collection, and is hence not making substantial contributions towards (1), (3), or (4).
  • Everyone listed as an author should have critically reviewed successive drafts of the paper and should approve the final version within a reasonable timeline (< 21 days) to avoid publication delays.
  • Everyone listed as author should be able to defend the paper as a whole (although not necessarily all the technical details).
  • Any author who is responsible for substantial delays (> 30 days) in the submission or publication of a manuscript due to failing to respond to requests or questions by either the first or senior authors, may be removed from the manuscript.
  • Being listed as an author on earlier manuscript drafts does not guarantee or necessitates being listed as an author on the final paper, in accordance to the above guidelines.

Order of Authors

  • The person who has made the major contribution to the paper and taken the lead in writing is entitled to be the first author. The first author is the person who is fully accountable for the entire paper or product as an accurate, verifiable report of the research presented. Students should normally be the first author on any multi-authored article based on their thesis or dissertation.
  • The last (‘senior’) author would typically be the PI who conceived the study or is the major supervisor of the first author. In those two cases, the last author is also fully accountable for the entire paper or product as an accurate, verifiable report of the research presented.
  • Those who have made a major contribution to analysis or writing (i.e. more than commenting in detail on successive drafts) are entitled to follow the first author immediately. All others who fulfil the criteria for authorship should complete the list in alphabetical order of their surnames.
  • If any two or more authors feel that they have contributed equally to the paper, this should be clearly indicated in a footnote. This includes the possibility of ‘dual first authorship’.
  • Decisions about the order of authors are made by the first and senior authors, in consultation with other authors.

Data Ownership

  • Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the PI reserves the right to use data in publications as long as both of these conditions are fulfilled:
    • The data were collected by a person under the PI’s supervision, and during the time this person was under the PI’s supervision.
    • The data were collected primarily using the lab’s resources: time, money, and/or equipment.
  • In such cases, the person who collected these data would be invited to serve as an author, in accordance with the above criteria. Further, if these data constitute the cardinal part of the analysis, the person who collected the data would be invited to lead the writing and serve as the first author (in accordance with the above criteria), as long as they can commit to do so in a timely manner.
  • If the person who collected these data declines this invitation, or does not respond to multiple requests, made over multiple communication channels, and over a period of at least three months, the PI reserves the right to use data in publications without granting the data collector authorship.