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Publications are usually key to a career in science. That's why there are often conflicts about whether a person is included as author and if so at which position. Conventions vary by country and institution and change over time. But which criteria should be applied? The Vancouver Convention attempted to give an answer but is not implemented by all.

Uniform Requirements (Vancouver Convention)


Authors: The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) = the Vancouver group
Summary: authorship requires "substantial contribution" to EITHER

  • conception and design
  • acquisition of data
  • analysis and interpretation of data

The editors committee also emphasises that drafting or revising and the final approval of the version to be published are necessary for authorship.

Criteria not sufficient for authorship are:

  • acquisition of funding
  • general supervision of the research group

(This section is ambiguously worded in the original text. It also includes "collection of data" as a criterium not sufficient for authorship while listing "acquisition of data" as a contribution sufficient for authorship.)

> read the 2000 version of the ICMJE recommendation in more detail on


R. D. Ganatra criticises the following points: "These guidelines were established to safeguard the position of the editors of journals and are concerned primarily with the written version of a scientific paper. They do not consider how the research project was conducted and who collected experimental data. They ignore technicians who slog to collect the data reported. The guidelines say nothing about researchers who have contributed to the work but whose names are left out of the paper." [1]

Is the Vancouver Convention too vague? Consider this quote of an arbiter explaining the convention: "To be a co-author, a person’s contribution must be substantial, it must be related to the project and the author must have participated in the whole process with critical reflection." Knut Ruyter, National Committee for Medical Research Ethics (NEM). What is substantial is a common question asked.



  • excellent teaching module on responsible authorship including several scenarios from
  • onlineethics' directory on authorship containing several interesting articles and many cases
  • original publications Vancouver Convention/Uniform Requirement
- "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals" NEJM 1997, 335: 309-315, updated 2000
- "Uniform requirements submitted to biomedical journals" JAMA 1993; 269: 2282- 6.