Academic authorship of journal articles, books and other original works is a means by which academics communicate the results of their scholarly work, establish priority for their discoveries, and build their reputation among their peers. Authorship is a primary basis on which many academics are evaluated for employment, promotion, and tenure. In academic publishing, authorship of a work is claimed by those making intellectual contributions to the completion of the research described in the work. In simple cases, a solitary scholar carries out a research project and writes the subsequent article or book. In many disciplines, however, collaboration is the norm and issues of authorship can be controversial. In these contexts, authorship can encompass activities other than writing the article; a researcher who comes up with an experimental design and analyzes the data may be considered an author, even if he had little role in composing the text describing the results. According to some standards, even writing the entire article would not constitute authorship unless the writer was also involved in at least one other phase of the project.
In the medical field, authorship is defined very narrowly. According to the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, in order to be considered an author, one must have satisfied all three conditions:
- Contributed substantially to the conception and design of the study, the acquisition of data, or the analysis and interpretation
- Drafting or providing critical revision of the article,and
- Provided final approval of the version to be published
The acquisition of funding, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship. Many medical journals have abandoned the strict notion of author, with the flexible notion of contributor.