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Authorship, competing interests and funding

Francis Crick FRS at UCL in 1938 taken by Elizabeth Vick, courtesy of MSB
Francis Crick FRS at UCL in 1938 taken by Elizabeth Vick, courtesy of MSB


The list of authors should accurately reflect who carried out the research and who wrote the article. All multi-authored papers should include an ‘Authors’ Contributions’ section at the end of the paper.

The list of authors should correspond to the following criteria (based on ICMJE guidelines). Authors must meet all 4 of these conditions:

  • substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
  • drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
  • final approval of the version to be published; and
  • agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

All authors must meet these criteria for authorship and, conversely, no-one should be omitted from the list if he/she meets these criteria.

For more guidance regarding authorship, including tips on how to manage author disputes and how to avoid any unethical authorship, please read our blog.

It is a condition of publication for the submitting author to provide an Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) via the online submission system. The benefits of registering an ORCID are outlined here. Provision of ORCIDs by co-authors is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory.

Other contributors

Contributors who do not meet all of the above criteria for authorship should not be listed as authors, but they should be acknowledged. Examples include general administrative support and writing assistance. Authors must confirm the contributor’s willingness to be acknowledged.


When deciding on authorship and other contributors please consider equity, diversity and inclusion. For example, if remote fieldwork is done with scientists on the ground or with the help of other locals these should be credited. Anyone who meets the criteria for authorship or acknowledgement must be included.

Competing interests

All authors, referees and editors must declare any conflicting or competing interests relating to a given article.

Competing interests are defined as those that, through their potential influence on behaviour or content or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of publication.

They may include:

  • Employment – recent, current and anticipated by any organisation that may gain or lose financially through publication
  • Sources of funding – research support by any organisation that may gain or lose financially through publication
  • Personal financial interests –  stocks and shares in companies that may gain or lose financially through publication; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration from organisations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications whose value may be affected by publication
  • Membership of relevant organisations
  • Having a personal relationship with any of the authors (if you are an editor or referee) or an editor, including a guest editor of a theme issue or special feature (if you are an author)
  • Working or having recently worked in the same institution or department as any of the authors (if you are an editor or referee)
  • Having recently (eg in the past 3 years) been a supervisor, mentor, mentee, close collaborator or joint grant holder with any of the authors.

All manuscripts must include a competing interests section. Please see our author guidelines.

Referees are asked to declare their competing interests when returning their report on a paper.

If an editor has a competing or conflicting interest preventing them from making an unbiased decision on a manuscript then the editorial office will send the manuscript to an alternative editor for assessment.

Sources of funding

Funding received for the work described in the paper or for the publication itself, for all authors, must be declared within the publication. Examples of funding are:

  • Research funds – the source and any grant numbers should be included in a funding section at the end of the paper
  • Funding of the article processing charge for an open access article – this should be included in the acknowledgements section
  • Funding for writing, language editing or editorial assistance – this should be included in the acknowledgements section.
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