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My group is about to publish a research paper with another group. We mostly only provide funding and general oversight. It is important that me and a few colleagues are noted as authors on the paper, simply to make sure we get funding in the future and to indicate that this project was a success, also communicating within our own institution. A general remark "This works was funded by..." is not enough.

But I also do not want to take credit away from the (young) researchers in the other group that did all the grunt work.

What kind of sentence or other method would you suggest to make sure that the other group gets most of the credit? Order of authors comes to my mind, but this is not really clear due to coincidentally alphabetical enumeration.

Any kind of ideas?

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    Did you make "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 reviewing it critically for important intellectual content"? If not, you shouldn't be an author on the paper.
    – user438383
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 15:46
  • In most journals, you can specify the contribution of the different authors. A.B. and C.D. conceptualized the project. E.F. secured funding. A.B. and G.H. collected and analyzed the data. .... All the authors contributed to the manuscript.
    – Outsider
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 15:47
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    Regarding substantial contributions: We had weekly meetings where we skteched the outline and the goals in the beginning, and later discussed progress, gave feedback and suggestions. Essentially we supervised the project. Our contribution is not zero; and in any way: If we are not on the paper, there is a high chance that there is no future funding for both of our groups. So there is some mutual interest that we show up. I just want to make sure, they get most of the credit.
    – ndbd
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 8:57

3 Answers 3

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I would add a detailed statement of author contribution. The CRediT taxonomy does include specific roles for administration, conception/design, and supervision. Based on your comments I don't think there is necessarily any question that you made a worthy contribution to the paper.

With that in mind, I agree with @user438383's answer in general. The ICJME provides really good, clear guidelines. But, and this is a big but, the real world often requires flexibility and ICJME is the not the be all and end all of authorship criteria. In terms of authorship contribution, weekly meetings where you supervise, mentor, or otherwise directly guide the progress of a project is (in my opinion) a reasonable contribution to be named author. This is essentially what PhD supervisors do and I doubt anyone would suggest eliminating them from an author list. I find it impossible to believe that you made NO significant contributions to the paper with such a level of involvement. I'm also assuming that you reviewed the manuscript and approved the final draft. If you have not, you should. There is still time to do so since obviously you have not submitted the paper yet.

I also think it is worth mentioning that from the ICJME's website:

The criteria are not intended for use as a means to disqualify colleagues from authorship who otherwise meet authorship criteria by denying them the opportunity to meet criterion #s 2 or 3. Therefore, all individuals who meet the first criterion should have the opportunity to participate in the review, drafting, and final approval of the manuscript.

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    The addition of a specific "author contribution" didn't come to my mind, as it is uncommon in my field. But why not? Will probably not use the ICJME taxonomy directly, but still indicate that our contributions were much smaller. Thanks for the suggestion!
    – ndbd
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 22:20
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For some (groups and fields), supervision is enough, and that can be said.

However, rather than list the contributions of everyone in a "contributions" section, list only the major contributors and their specific contribution, leaving the impression that the others was lesser. If you have listed everyone as authors, this should be enough.

Alternatively, you can probably say that you contributed ideas to the various discussions and, perhaps, some verification of the results. Both are likely true.

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"We mostly only provide funding and general oversight"

If you only provided funding and 'general oversight', then (in my books), that shouldn't qualify as a co-authorship, but an acknowledgement. These are the criteria for co-authorship I subscribe to:

The ICMJE recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  2. Drafting the work or reviewing it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  4. 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.

Further:

Contributors who meet fewer than all 4 of the above criteria for authorship should not be listed as authors, but they should be acknowledged. Examples of activities that alone (without other contributions) do not qualify a contributor for authorship are acquisition of funding; general supervision of a research group or general administrative support; and writing assistance, technical editing, language editing, and proofreading

Source

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    While I agree that this is the way it should be, not all fields adhere to it. In particular, in some fields, the PI will always be an author even when they are scarcely aware of the details of the work. Not good (IMO), but common enough. And, in those fields, it is also often the case that the work couldn't have been done at all but for the PI.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 15:55
  • Of course, I’m just answering the question with what I think is the right thing to do.
    – user438383
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 20:16
  • I understand (and wasn't the downvote). It is good information to pass on to the OP even if their situation is different.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 20:18

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