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Guidelines for Authorship
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American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses
Guidelines for Authorship: Concepts, Principles, & Ethics


  • To inform ASPAN’s leaders, researchers, authors, presenters, editors, committees, strategic work teams (SWTs), management company staff, and component members about the concepts, responsibilities, principles, and ethics of authorship
  • To guide decisions about how to properly recognize and publicly credit the contributions of individuals who developed a product
  • To uphold the professional integrity of ASPAN and its products, publications, and presentations


Authorship establishes individual responsibility and credit for a project and thereby acknowledges the intellectual contributions and developmental work of the individual(s) who substantially contribute to a product.

An author may be a single individual or one participant among several who:

  • submits a proposal for an ASPAN research grant
  • conducts clinical research lectures to present data captured in clinical research, posters or ASPAN clinical guidelines
  • creates a poster or oral presentation to present at an educational offering
  • writes an article or chapter for potential publication in
    • a component newsletter
    • online presentation, such as a Specialty Practice Group (SPG) newsletter
    • Breathline
    • Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing
    • ASPAN’s Core Curriculum for PeriAnesthesia Nursing Practice
  • Develops a chapter for inclusion in an committee-written, ASPAN-published manual. Examples include ASPAN’s Competency Based Orientation manuals, primers written by Research or Governmental Affairs SWT


Ethical principles underlie authorship decisions.

  • Since creating a product often involves multiple participants, the personal integrity and honesty of each individual participant may be as important as the intellectual contribution.
    • Stating ones personal, financial, or professional conflicts of interest or withdrawing from a project due to time constraints are examples of personal ethical responsibilities.
    • Desire for a lead authorship position should not be one’s motivation for involvement in a project.
  • ASPAN’s core values include to “be honest, truthful and fair.” Respect of these values by contributors, leaders, staff and members is expected.

Key ethical issues of authorship include:

  • Truth: each author must present content truthfully.
  • Honesty: when developing a product, honesty must exist between participants and by each individual participant crafting a part of the product.
  • Trust: an essential element underlying the activities and products of committees, SWTs, leaders and members in behalf of ASPAN.


The concept of authorship is frequently visited in professional literature. The International Council of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJN) and the American Psychological Association (APA) have established criteria individuals can apply when establishing authorship.1,2

Four requirements of an author include:

  • Substantial participation to the project along the continuum of the project. Authors have documented involvement from concept, design and method development to analysis and interpretation of the data
  • Substantial participation in the drafting or substantive editing of the product, including revisions and final approval of the version to be presented or published
  • Ongoing re-evaluation throughout the project to determine if the designation is still deserved
  • The ability to be responsible for, explain and be familiar with the contents of the final product, whether presentation, paper, grant, poster or manuscript


What is not authorship? Authorship does not extend to an individual who does not provide substantial intellectual contribution to the product. An editor or project team must distinguish between individuals who substantially contribute from individuals who merely provide mechanical support.3 Honorary authorship is not acceptable.

Examples of ‘mechanical support’ include, but are not limited to:

  • Entering data into a database
  • Providing assistance or consultation as part of one’s job requirement. For example, an ASPAN committee’s liaison from the Board of Directors or ASPAN office staff provide support to many ASPAN projects, yet this support does not rise to the level of “author”
  • Statistical assistance for clinical research
  • Helping to design, format or construct a research poster
  • General editorial support. For example, the editor of a journal article may guide an author to improve a product or revise the text to improve its presentation

Contributors of “mechanical support” and those that do not meet the criteria of authorship may be acknowledged at the end of an article, presentation, or on the bottom of a research poster. Such acknowledgement is both gracious and professionally proper.

How does one determine who is first author and subsequent authors?

  • The person who provides the most intellectual contribution in the project becomes the first author.
  • Subsequent authors are listed in declining order according to their contributions to the project.
  • Many professional journals require that each author’s contribution to the manuscript be described.
  • Notice that authorship decisions are not based on:
    • Power or status, such as seniority within the group, committee chairmanship or perceived or social power
    • Personal benefit, such as eligibility for promotion, tenure considerations, or desire to augment one’s resume
    • Alphabetical listing of last names

When should authorship be discussed? Authorship issues should be discussed very early in the project’s development process. Authorship decisions should be documented in a written format.3 This documentation should include:

  • Who will be first author on any publications
  • The order of other authors involved in the project
  • Separate discussion and documentation for each anticipated publication or presentation when multiple variations of a project are anticipated
  • A reference in ASPAN meeting notes that the authors’ agree to abide by ASPAN’s policy on authorship. Disputes arising from ASPAN projects and authorship will be handled with the ASPAN BOD

Do all committee projects require authorship discussions? No.

  • At times, an entire ASPAN committee works on a project. Authorship considerations do not apply and the entire committee is credited. For example, ASPAN Standards and Guidelines are a committee-driven product.
    • List the committee or work team’s name (for example ASPAN Standards and Guidelines SWT) in any publication or beneath poster title.
    • Include the names of committee members at the end of the article, presentation or on the bottom of a poster.4
    • Place the name of the Committee Chair or Work Team Coordinator first, and then list committee or SWT members alphabetically by last name.
  • Sometimes guideline development or committee or SWT activities require more detailed work. In these situations, these authorship guidelines can assist member(s) to determine how to discuss, determine and document authorship.
    • Acknowledgement of committee or SWT members is a good option to highlight members who are peripherally involved in a project.
    • The ASPAN Editors and Chair of the ASPAN Publication SWT are a resource for ASPAN committees or strategic work teams if authorship questions occur.

Who should present papers and posters at scientific or educational meetings? Generally, the first author of the paper, presentation and/or poster is the person expected to present the work at scientific or education meetings. Other options may be necessary. When choosing an alternate presenter, consider the following:

  • A secondary author or project team member may present the work if acceptable to the meeting providers, and when this person is qualified to present.
  • It is essential that the person selected to present have sufficient knowledge about the entire project and is not simply a ‘figure-head.3
  • Mentorship is an essential part of ASPAN’s growth as an organization. Presentations, with the guidance of a mentor, offer an opportunity to expand a secondary author’s professional boundaries.
  • Financial considerations should not outweigh authorship protocols and publication ethics.

Who holds the copyright? Once a manuscript is accepted for publication, the author(s) will be required to assign the copyright of the manuscript to ASPAN or Elsevier as the owner of the publication in which the manuscript will appear. ASPAN owns the copyright to every published article that appears in Breathline. ASPAN also owns the copyright to every ASPAN-published product; examples include Perianesthesia Nursing Standards and Practice Recommendations, guidelines for care, or Competency Base Orientation manuals. Elsevier owns the copyright to articles published in the Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing and written permission is required from Elsevier prior to any reprint of articles or other content within the Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing. ASPAN also owns the copyright to ASPAN Seminars including all slides.

  • Until the copyright of the manuscript is assigned, the manuscript’s author(s) remains the “owner” of expressed ideas and recommendations, as well as original tables, graphs, or research; editors apply stringent processes to protect the privacy of this content prior to publication.
  • If excerpts from other copyrighted works are included in the manuscript, the author(s) must obtain written permission from the copyright owner and the credit the source(s) in the manuscript.
  • Products of ASPAN committees, such as guidelines, presentations, or even articles, remain the property of ASPAN.
  • With written permission from ASPAN, the copyright owner, ASPAN-owned materials can be reproduced. The document in which the ASPAN-owned materials are reproduced must credit ASPAN. The clause “Used with permission of ASPAN; written permission from ASPAN is required for any reprint” is necessary whenever these materials are published by others. Examples might include:
    1. A component newsletter editor seeking to reprint an ASPAN article in a component newsletter
    2. An author wishing to reprint or modify a table, diagram, figure or photograph from a published ASPAN-owned work
    3. An informational article created within an ASPAN committee for distribution to component newsletter editors
      • When printed in the newsletter, the editor must publish the author’s name, credentials (byline), and ASPAN committee as well as the permission clause crediting ASPAN.
      • An individual author of this document can reference the publication in a curriculum vitae; ASPAN retains copyright/ownership rights.


  • An author provides:
    • Substantial contribution throughout the project, from drafting, conception and idea creation through drafting and revision and until the final version is approved
    • Ongoing re-evaluation to determine if the designation of “author” is still deserved
    • Responsibility for and familiarity with the final product
  • Authorship is not extended to individuals who do not substantially intellectually contribute to the product.
  • Discuss and document authorship early in project development.
  • The person with the most intellectual contribution to the project is designated as first author. Subsequent authors are listed in order of contributions.
  • The primary author of the paper, presentation and/or poster is the person expected to present the work at scientific or education meetings.
  • At times, when an entire committee or SWT works on a project, authorship is not a consideration.
  • The ASPAN editors and the ASPAN Publications SWT Coordinator are a resource for ASPAN committees or strategic work teams if authorship questions occur.


  1. American Psychological Association. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5tth edition). Washington, DC: APA; 2001.
  2. International Council of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication; 2006. Available at: http://www.icmje.org/index.html#ethic: Accessed July 20, 2007.
  3. Roig M. Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices: A guide to ethical writing; 2006. Available at: http://facpub.stjohns.edu/~roigm/publications.htm: Accessed July 20, 2007.
  4. Laflin MT, Glover ED, McDermott RJ. (2005). Publication ethics: an examination of authorship practices. American Journal of Health Behavior. 2005;29(6):579-587.

This document was created by the collaborative work of an Ad Hoc Team appointed by Susan Fossum (ASPAN President 2007-2008).

Members included Jacqueline Ross (Authorship Ad Hoc Leader and Director for Research), Kathy Carlson (Chair of the Publications Committee), Terry Clifford (Director for Clinical Practice), Sara Waldron (Policies and Procedures Ad Hoc Leader) and Linda Ziolkowski (Director for Education).

April 8, 2008
Revised April 2011

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