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Also see the Editor notes on using authors using a group name and joint first authors, how to manage a change in author affiliation, and guidance on deceased authors.

Criteria for authorship (authors on the by-line)

When deciding who should appear in the by-line of a Cochrane Review, it is important to distinguish individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the review (and who should be listed) and those who have helped in other ways, which should be noted in the Acknowledgements section. 

Authorship should be based on substantial contributions to all of the following four steps, as described by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) in the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly work in Medical Journals. Authors must sign a licence for publication form that affirms all of the following:

  • I/we have made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work.
  • I/we have drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content.
  • I/we approve the final version to be published.
  • I/we agree 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.

The specific contributions should be listed under the section ‘Contributions of authors’. The list of authors can be the name of an individual, several individuals, a collaborative group (for example, ‘Advanced Bladder Cancer Overview Collaboration’), or a combination of one or more authors and a collaborative group; see section on group authorship {insert link to section}. Ideally, the order of authors should relate to their relative contributions to the review, with the person who contributed most should be listed first. Authors are encouraged to discuss the order of by-line authors early in the preparation of the Cochrane Review/ Protocol.

Authors may benefit from reading the report on how to handle authorship disputes prepared by the Committee on Publication Ethics before starting a Cochrane Review.

Editors or editorial staff as authors of Cochrane Reviews from their Cochrane Review Group

Cochrane editors and editorial staff can author Cochrane Reviews ("Cochrane Reviews" includes protocols, reviews, and updates) published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. This includes when the Cochrane Review is part of the editor's Cochrane Review Group's (CRG's) portfolio. In line with the ‘Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics: A Publisher's Perspective’ (second edition), the editor or editorial staff member who is an author of the Cochrane Review submitted for publication via their CRG must:

  • exclude themselves entirely from the editorial process to ensure separation of the author and the editorial processes. This includes but is not limited to all editorial decisions and related activities (including selection of and contact with peer reviewers, liaison with editors, sign-off for publication); and
  • ensure that another Editor or member of the editorial staff takes on these roles. Practically this process should be administered by another member of the same CRG editorial team. If this is not possible then ask a member of another editorial team (e.g. another CRG or the Cochrane Editorial Unit).

If the Contact or Sign-off Editor(s) are selected from within the same CRG editorial team, it is essential they are independent; for example, it is not appropriate for someone to be a Contact or Sign-off Editor if an author of the review is their line manager. If in doubt, the Sign-off Editor for the review should be someone from another editorial team (e.g. another CRG or the Cochrane Editorial Unit).

A brief summary of the process followed should be included in the ‘Conflicts of interest’ section of the Cochrane Review to let readers know that this potential conflict of interest has been addressed.

Editorial teams should contact ME Support (mesupport@cochrane.org) with any queries or questions regarding the implementation of this policy.

Changes in authorship

Pre-publication change in authorship

Authors requesting a change in authorship (modify the order, remove, or add an author) must contact the Cochrane Review Group (CRG) Managing Editor. In line with the recommendations of COPE flowcharts, the CRG will require all authors to agree with the modification (usually by asking the authors to reply to an email explaining the change).

Post-publication change in authorship

Authors wishing to add or remove an author post-publication, and before the next citation version, must submit a request to the Managing Editor of the Cochrane Review Group. Managing Editors are recommended to use the COPE flowcharts for the following scenarios: 

    •    Request for addition of extra author after publication

    •    Request for removal of author after publication

One of the outcomes of the COPE flowcharts is to publish a correction. For Cochrane Reviews, instead of publishing a correction, the Review should be republished as an amendment with a new citation.


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