WIN Authorship Guidelines
WIN members often provide each other with support, training and advice and this is a very positive feature of our collective working environment. Such occasional support typically does not meet criteria for formal recognition such as co-authorship. However, there are situations in which contributions are substantial and deserve formal recognition. To ensure that credit is given appropriately, including to those that contribute "behind the scenes", WIN has guidelines on authorship principles and identifying co-authorships and acknowledgements in practice.
General principles for authorships
Generally, an author is considered to be someone who:
- has made a substantial intellectual contribution to a published study. This could be through the design, execution, analysis or interpretation of the research AND
- has been involved in the drafting and revision of the work AND
- accepts accountability for relevant aspects of the work
These are general principles, and each journal will have its own rules for authorship. More information and guidance are available on the University of Oxford Research Integrity pages.
It is good practice to have discussions about authorship early in a project and to revisit those discussions regularly, as contributions may change over time. Those who do not meet criteria for authorship but who have contributed in some way to a paper can be recognised through acknowledgements.
Support from Core Centre Staff
WIN is fortunate to have some extremely experienced physics, radiography, experimental, IT and other support staff to facilitate the research of the Centre. Many studies benefit from their professional expertise and skillset, and acknowledging this help is appropriate and appreciated. We do not prescribe a form of words to put in acknowledgements, but we encourage authors to acknowledge teams, and in some cases individuals, without whom the research would not be possible. For example, scanning projects acknowledging the radiography team, and high-performance computing projects acknowledging the computing team.
Some projects benefit from significant direct involvement of a core staff member who invests specific time, expertise and intellectual input into a project. Where the level of involvement is substantial, then co-authorship might be appropriate and should be discussed at an early stage. If you are unsure as to whether it is appropriate to include a member of core staff as an author, then seek advice from your group leader or member of the WIN management board.
Guidelines for identifying co-authorships and acknowledgements in practice
At the project presentation stage (WIP meetings), researchers will be encouraged to identify any tools, approaches, or datasets they will be using that might require involvement beyond the immediate research team. This will provide an early opportunity to identify potential collaborators to bring on board at the planning stage.
It is recognised, however, that not all requirements will be captured in this way, that projects evolve over time, and that some contributions might be overlooked. We therefore want to give people the opportunity to request co-authorships when appropriate. Such requests need to be reasonable, and final decisions on authorships will continue to rest with any given study's senior researcher (typically the senior author on the paper).
To facilitate these requests, a paper's first author should notify all WIN members shortly before submission to the journal (minimum 2 weeks is recommended), in order to allow for any additional co-authorships to be requested. Specifically, the notification should include the paper title, author list, abstract, and acknowledgements. This should be done by emailing these details to email@example.com and we will ensure that the notification is circulated to all WIN members, within a week.
If someone has contributed to the study and feels they have been overlooked, this is their chance to discuss this with their supervisor/line-manager, who can raise this with a study's senior author if appropriate. Where a group leader is keeping a list of tools, this is their chance to raise any queries concerning contribution of the tool creator.
Announcing paper submissions in this way will require minimal extra work on the part of the paper authors, need not delay their submission, and will only require centre members and group leaders to briefly read upcoming paper titles & abstracts. This might even help raise awareness of what research is going on across the centre and increase collaboration!
Guidelines for tools
At WIN, we benefit from access to shared tools such as pulse sequences, acquisition protocols and analysis software. Many of these tools are well-established and are designed to be easily used by researchers without need for direct involvement of the tool creator.
It is important to ensure that you cite any relevant paper(s) for tools that you use, as these are also important in recognizing your colleagues' contributions.
When a new tool is made available, it is often valuable to involve the tool creator in a study making use of the tool. We encourage users to contact creators if they want to suggest collaboration on a new project. Through collaboration, the creator is given the opportunity to contribute from the planning stages and can ensure that tools are used and interpreted appropriately. Tool creators are not obliged to support researchers in this way, but most tool creators welcome this opportunity. Where the level of involvement is substantial, then co-authorship might be appropriate and should be discussed at an early stage. Tool creators or group leaders are encouraged to let WIN members know (e.g via Monday message or WIN Wednesday presentation) when a new tool becomes available.
Occasionally, direct involvement of a tool creator may be a condition of using a particular tool (for example if the tool is not yet at a stage where researchers could use it independently). In these cases, researchers should contact tool creators before using the tool and agree how the tool creator can support the research team in responsible use of the tool.
Guidelines for data
Researchers should only use data with appropriate permission and in line with any ethical approvals and data security rules that apply. All researchers are reminded of their responsibility to have undertaken Data Privacy and Information Security Training as per University requirements.
If direct arrangements (outside of WIN's open neuroimaging framework) are made for data sharing between researchers, then we recommend that the researchers discuss expectations around level of involvement and collaboration up front. Where the level of involvement is substantial, then co-authorship might be appropriate and should be discussed at an early stage. Where datasets are citable, it is good practice to include citations for any datasets used.
WIN's Open Neuroimaging project aims to make centre data, tools, and code openly available. With this system, researchers will be able to access some datasets without direct contact with the data creators. Rules and expectations around acknowledgement and authorships will be specified for each dataset.
Final note on externally sourced tools/data
Please be aware that some of the tools that we have available to us have been provided from external labs, for example pulse sequences and datasets. These may have licence conditions that we have signed up to and that must be observed. Typically, these conditions include the citation of papers, and the acknowledgement of individuals or groups. In certain cases they may require the inclusion of external individuals as co-authors. We maintain a summary of the most widely used licence terms at WIN, found here.
We hope that the above guidelines will help Centre members navigate authorships and acknowledgements in a fair and transparent way.
Director, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging