Code of Practice on Authorship

Policy Owner
Research and Innovation Support
Document Type
Code of Practice
Document Approval Date

All DCU researchers, including research students, should disseminate their research in a timely fashion, and through as effective a means as possible. We have a responsibility to those who invest in research, an ethical responsibility to society, and institutional and personal self‐ interest in having our research output reach where it will have impact. Authorship establishes accountability as well as credit. Individual DCU researchers have a responsibility to ensure their names are included in publications of research to which they have contributed. This will ensure they are credited with the work they have done, allow them to take responsibility for this output, and evidence the originality of their contribution. Publication and authorship must be approached in a responsible, open, honest, fair and accurate manner. Joint authorship, common in many disciplines, can bring significant benefits once based on good practice principles

In line with the National Policy Statement on Ensuring Research Integrity in Ireland (2019), this Code of Practice seeks to provide clarity for DCU staff and students on the issue of authorship of research papers, reports or other research outputs. It should help to minimise disputes about authorship, protect researchers, including students and those on temporary contract, and provide the basis for resolution of disagreements on authorship. It also serves to underpin efforts to increase the amount of research reaching publication in contexts where models of authorship may have mitigated against this, e.g. in disciplines where sole authorship by research students is the norm.

This Code of Practice applies to all staff of the University, both academic and support, including those based in the campus companies and research centres. All references to staff or employees shall be understood to include research and emeritus staff.

This Code of Practice also applies to all research students and research graduates of the university in reference to the output of research undertaken by them as part of a programme in DCU, or under the auspices of DCU separate to thesis preparation, including cases where a student is submitting a thesis by publication.

This Code of Practice applies to all DCU research output, including journal articles, books, chapters, conference abstracts, reports, web‐based publications, creative works, artifacts, and other scholarly outputs. This code of practice does not apply to matters of intellectual property, patents[1], copyright[2]  or research theses. However, it does apply to papers forming part of a PhD by Publication, and publications arising from research theses.


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Authorship issues, including allocation of publication credit through position in the author list, should be agreed by all authors at an early stage in the process of preparing a publication, and reviewed periodically.

All named authors must have made a substantial intellectual contribution to the research that is presented in the publication. Entitlement to authorship only exists where all the conditions below are met:

• Significant intellectual contribution: e.g. substantial contributions requiring intellectual effort include conceiving the original idea, designing the study, collecting, analysing and interpreting the data.

• Drafting the article, or revising it critically for important intellectual content.

• Final approval of the version to be published.

 Authorship rights flow from the substance of intellectual input:

• To have provided materials, data that has already been published, access to an instrument/equipment or software or a lab/office space, routine technical support, or to have simply made measurements do not constitute substantial intellectual input.

• Technical editing is not considered a substantial intellectual contribution.

Any individual who is an author, consistent with this definition, must be named as such. This is particularly important for protection of research students and researchers on temporary contracts. To exclude any such individuals (even with their consent) fails to give due credit, and conflicts with principles of openness by masking the involvement of particular individuals.

In the case of multiple publications from the same project or dataset, the authorship rights of each publication should be judged separately in accordance with this Code of Practice on Authorship. Authorship rights should not be assumed based on prior authorship on publications from the same project or dataset.

Any person, including research students, research assistants, research officers, technical officers and other support staff can be considered for authorship of a paper, provided his/her contribution was substantial and intellectual in nature.

Publication credits are assigned to all those who have contributed to a publication in proportion to their contribution and, according to discipline, this may be reflected in the order in which authors are listed. The contribution of a research student in any multiple authored paper that substantially derives from their thesis is expected to be appropriately reflected in assignation of publication credit. DCU researchers must become familiar with the norms in their discipline regarding interpretation of the order of authors. Allocation of credit can be particularly sensitive when it involves researchers at different stages of their careers.

Authorship rights flow from what an individual does in respect of a publication, not from who they are. Many journals encourage transparency by publishing author contribution statements.

• Being a named supervisor does not merit authorship if no intellectual contribution was made to the research described in the specific article. Contexts in which supervisors and research students collaborate to undertake and publish research may justify shared authorship by meeting the criteria set above.

• Acquisition of funding without contributing intellectually to the research work published does not merit authorship rights.

• Ghost, gift or honorary authorship is not acceptable. Being the Head of School, a Chair in the discipline or Director of the Research Centre in which the research was carried out do not, of themselves, merit authorship rights.

• It is not permitted to include a high status ‘legitimating’ author, who has not made a contribution to the specific research.

Journals, publishers and platforms hosting creative outputs may have quite detailed authorship rules. These should be complied with, in addition to this code of practice.

Support, other than direct intellectual contribution, must be acknowledged fairly, with permission if an individual is to be named.

It is important that DCU receives appropriate acknowledgement, where the work was conducted at DCU, even if the author has since left the university. All other relevant institutional, organisational and/or funding affiliations must also be declared or acknowledged for each author.

Publishing and producing research outputs is viewed as a key component of research training, which can help students to develop key skills, maintain motivation, benefit from external feedback, and improve employment and funding opportunities. From the outset, supervisors should make research students aware of expectations regarding publishing and discuss authorship at an early stage.

In cases where a PhD or Research Master’s student has not published a piece of work in a timely way, a supervisor may be named as an author, provided the supervisor has intellectual input in the research work and writes the manuscript themselves. In these cases, the student should be consulted regarding the decision to publish well in advance and given the opportunity to review the manuscript and should be listed as an author.

For multi‐authored papers, a designated author will be identified and agreed by all co‐ authors to undertake specific responsibilities as outlined in this Code of Practice. An author will be identified and agreed by all co‐authors to correspond on their behalf with the publisher. In many disciplines both roles are undertaken by the same author, the person who will make the most substantial contribution to the publication (i.e. a lead author).

The designated author should ensure that all named authors have consented to be named, and have approved the final version of the paper or report, and the order of author’s names. It is this author’s responsibility to ensure all relevant authors are included.

It is the responsibility of the corresponding author to ensure all authors are aware of publication changes through the peer review process.

All authors must satisfy themselves that they can legitimately claim ownership of a significant aspect of the reported research, and that their co‐authors are happy for them to do so. All authors must satisfy themselves that they can defend those aspects of the research for which they are responsible. It is the responsibility of all authors to promptly retract a paper or correct results when an error is discovered in published work.

All authors are responsible to ensure that to publish the work is responsible, with awareness of possible impact on vulnerable stakeholders.

All authors must ensure compliance with nondisclosure agreements and/or confidentiality provisions applying to specific projects.

The DCU Vice President for Research is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Code of Practice.

In case of collaborative research outputs involving partners outside of DCU, it is the responsibility of the corresponding author to put in place an agreement clearly outlining the authorship and acknowledgement criteria.

Where a dispute relating to authorship, publication credit or right to publish arises, in the first instance the designated author will engage all co‐authors (including those whose authorship right may be in dispute) in correspondence, with a view to finding a resolution.

It is important to keep record of all correspondence. No attempt should be made to publish the disputed output until a resolution is reached. If the designated author is a student, they may request the advice and assistance of the independent supervisory panel member in this exercise.

If such discussions are not successful in a timely manner, the designated author will request intervention by the Executive Dean of their Faculty, to review documentation, discuss with all co-authors and arrive at an agreed solution, which will allow publication to proceed. The Dean may seek independent expert opinion as part of this process.

If this is not successful in a timely manner, the Executive Dean will request intervention by the Vice President for Research. Having reviewed all documentation and correspondence and received any other information they consider relevant, the decision of the Vice President for Research will be final.

If issues relating to authorship or process of paper approval are contested subsequent to publication, this is considered under the DCU Policy on Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct, where sanctions may be applied as per that policy.

Where disputes involve authors from two or more faculties in DCU, the executive Deans of the relevant faculties should discuss the issue among themselves with a view to arrive at a solution agreeable to all parties before seeking the intervention of the Vice President of Research.

This Policy should be read in conjunction with the following policies / procedures / guidelines:

DCU Code of Good Research Practice

DCU Policy for Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct

DCU Anti‐Fraud Policy

National Research Integrity Forum – Framework to Enhance Research Integrity in Collaborations

CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy)

Queries in respect of this Code of Practice from staff should be directed to the DCU Vice President for Research, and from students to the Dean of Graduate Studies in the first instance.

This Code of Practice will be reviewed by the DCU Research Committee at a minimum every 5 years.

Document Name

Code of Practice on Authorship

Unit Owner

Research Support

Version Reference

Version 2.0

Approved by

DCU Research Committee

Effective Date

December 15th 2022