Authorship of Scholarly Works (S-24)

Standard: S-24
Responsible Executive: Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Diversity
Responsible Office: Research Integrity Office
Date Issued: January 3, 2023
Date Last Revised: N/A


Individuals and Entities Affected by this Standard
Statement of Standard
Definitions (defined terms are capitalized throughout the document)
Related Documents, Forms and Tools
History and Updates


Clarification of Standard




Research Integrity Officer




All Purdue Associates who make a scholarly contribution to research or the reporting of research in scholarly works.


Accuracy of authorship attribution is paramount to scholarly integrity and maintaining the public trust in the research and scholarship generated from Purdue University. Attribution of authorship is as critical to the integrity of the publication record as the reported methodology, interpretation or conclusions. Inaccurate identification of authors harms the participating scholars and the credibility of the research and the institution.

This standard affirms the University’s commitment to research and scholarship integrity as represented by listed authors and associated acknowledgement sections. This standard and its requirements are rooted in, and informed by, Purdue’s overarching Statement of Integrity and Code of Conduct.

Suitable Authorship Practices

All Purdue Associates are required to list authors of scholarly works in accordance with authorship norms commonly accepted within a particular domain of scholarship and in accordance with the following:

  1. List authors accurately and completely;
  2. Do not list any gift authors, guest authors or ghost authors (see Unacceptable Authorship Practices below); and
  3. Apportion credit fairly and accurately (through the order of authorship or other means).

This standard applies to all situations that include, or allegedly should include, a Purdue Associate as a co-author.

Authorship Defined

Many organizations, journals and conferences publish guidelines for author identification. In the absence of such a guideline, include authors based upon the following from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (see link in Related Documents, Forms and Tools section):

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • 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.

At Purdue University, substantial contribution to a work that deserves credit as an author requires both material participation and intellectual contribution. Credit for a Co-author is expected when an individual both materially participates in a research project and provides intellectual contribution for which a resulting publication would suffer if it were lacking.

Acknowledgements may be used to denote contributions to the work that do not meet the criteria of authorship, such as supporting the study, general mentoring, acting as study coordinator or research technician, and other related auxiliary activities. Authors should verify that all individuals noted in an acknowledgements section have granted their permission to be listed.

Author Order

The meaning of author order may vary by discipline or publication. Purdue Associates are encouraged to follow discipline or source conventions in the ordering of authors. Typically, the order of authorship conveys the level of contribution. If there is equal involvement, authors are often ordered alphabetically by surname.

Where there is no prevailing convention and authorship is unequal, Purdue Associates should strive for correct representation based on contribution to the work. It is encouraged that Purdue Associates discuss and agree upon authorship and author order at the outset of a project and then review and update their agreement as needed during the project period.

Unacceptable Authorship Practices

Purdue Associates are required to avoid any manipulation of author identification to mislead the reader. In particular, the following practices are unacceptable:

  1. Gift authorship: co-authorship given as reward or repayment to someone who did not contribute significantly to a work; “quid pro quo” authorship.
  2. Guest authorship: co-authorship given due to reputation or influence to increase the potential for acceptance of the publication, when the Co-author did not contribute significantly to the work; “honorary” authorship.
  3. Ghost authorship: concealment of an author’s hand in the research or report of research.

Resolution of Authorship Disputes

A Purdue Associate who experiences an inaccurate or omitted authorship identification is encouraged to seek satisfactory resolution from the lead author or Corresponding Author. If attempts to resolve the issue fail, the associate may report the concern in writing to the Research Integrity Officer.

The Research Integrity Officer and/or a tenured faculty member of their choosing, with no conflict of interest, will mediate among authors to obtain a voluntary resolution to the dispute.  Choices of tenured faculty could be: disinterested faculty in the appropriate discipline, the chair of a unit graduate program, the associate dean of research, or others. If a voluntary resolution is not reached, the Research Integrity Officer will, in consultation with the Office of the Provost, refer the dispute to an appropriate academic head or dean who will create a faculty committee to advise the Office of the Provost on an appropriate resolution. 

In the event that a credible allegation of plagiarism exists in addition to the authorship dispute, the allegation will be subject to review under the University’s policy on Research Misconduct (III.A.2)

This standard does not supersede intellectual property rights outlined in the University’s policy on Intellectual Property (I.A.1) nor the standard on Courseware and Online Modules (S-19).


Purdue Associates

  • Understand this standard and use it as a guide for establishing authorship credit, author order and appropriate Acknowledgement in all scholarly activities.
  • Identify which Co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work and have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their Co-authors.
  • Report in good faith inaccurate, omitted or unacceptable authorship information as outlined in this standard.
  • Refrain from the unacceptable practices of gift, guest and ghost authorship.
  • Communicate this standard to other Purdue Associates in the course of research work, graduate advising and training on responsible conduct of research at Purdue University.
  • When requested, work with Purdue officials to resolve authorship disputes.

Dean/Associate Dean and School/Department Head/Chair

  • Understand this standard and use it as a guide for helping faculty establish appropriate authorship credit, author order and Acknowledgement when called upon to do so.
  • Report in good faith inaccurate, omitted or unacceptable authorship information as outlined in this standard.
  • Using this standard as a guide, assist in resolving authorship disputes.


  • With guidance from the RIO, assign an academic head or dean to mediate and propose an authorship dispute resolution if faculty mediation fails to resolve the situation.
  • When disputes involve external parties, work with the RIO to assign an appropriate individual to mediate and propose an authorship dispute resolution.

Research Integrity Officer

  • Administer this standard.
  • Receive reports of inaccurate, omitted or unacceptable authorship information as outlined in this standard and coordinate resolution of authorship disputes.


All defined terms are capitalized throughout the document. Refer to the central Policy Glossary for additional defined terms.

Recognition of a participant whose involvement does not meet the discipline’s recognized criteria for authorship.

A participant whose contribution to a scholarly work meets the discipline’s recognized criteria for authorship.

Corresponding Author
A participant who takes primary responsibility for the submission and communication with the publisher and responds to any questions about the work during and after publication. This is sometimes called the primary author.

Principal Investigator
Principal Investigator is the primary individual responsible for the preparation, conduct, and administration of a research grant, cooperative agreement, training or public service project, contract, or other sponsored project in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and institutional policy governing the conduct of sponsored research.

Purdue Associate
See definition in the policy on Research Misconduct (III.A.2).

Research Misconduct
See definition in the policy on Research Misconduct (III.A.2).


This standard is issued in support of the policy on Research Misconduct (III.A.2), as amended or superseded.

Additional Related Policies and Standards:

External Resources:


January 3, 2023: This is the first standard to address this issue.


There are no appendices to this standard.

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