CTU Bern (Clinical Trials Unit)

Authorship*

Staff of CTU Bern may provide essential support or services for its users. It is therefore important to appreciate their contributions to the scientific advancement of the projects. The most appropriate type of acknowledgement (co-authorship or formal mentioning in the acknowledgement section) differs from project to project, and depends on the contribution. CTU Bern must charge for services usually based on an initial cost estimate/a contract, the actual worked hours and the current hourly rate.  Charging for services does not preclude authorship on manuscripts provided the CTU Bern individual has contributed to the research in a substantial way.  According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), authorship confers credit and has important academic and social implications. But it also implies responsibility and accountability for the published work. Therefore, authorship is independent of any billings for the support provided. CTU collaborators should be included if (and only if) the support provided fulfills the criteria for authorship according to the Uniform Requirements issued by the ICMJE which are in accordance with the University's "Reglement über die wissenschaftliche Integrität". If authorship is anticipated, it is preferably established at the beginning of the project so that both parties are cognizant of each other’s criteria.

Intellectual interactions between CTU Bern and research scientists are considered essential to the success of each project. When this success results in publication, a citation in the acknowledgments section of a manuscript may be appropriate for routine support, simple analysis, or simple execution of tasks defined by the external collaborator. However, contributions from CTU Bern scientists that involve novel work and insight, experimental design, or advanced data analysis that make a publication possible or significantly enhance its value require co-authorship as the appropriate acknowledgment.

Below you can find some general guidance that may help to determine the most appropriate type of acknowledgement.

Activities for which authorship is recommended:

  • Author should make substantive contributions to the project such as
    • Conception, design of project, critical input, or original ideas
    • Acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation, beyond routine practices
    • Draft the article or revise it critically for intellectual content (interpretation)
    • Write a portion of the paper (not just materials and methods section)
    • Intellectual contribution
    • Final authority for the approval of article 
  • Each author should have participated enough to accept responsibility for the content of the manuscript 

The following activities do not represent intellectual contributions to a project and would not constitute authorship:

  • Providing funding (department chair who has no intellectual input)
  • Collection of data (technical skill but not involved in interpretation of data)
  • General supervision, but no intellectual input into the specific project

All contributors that do not meet the criteria of authorship should be recognized in the acknowledgements section, for example:

  • Paid technical help including execution of simple statistical analysis that had been defined by non-CTU Bern individuals
  • Writing assistance
  • Financial and material support
  • Scientific advice

Two examples are pertinent: (from Robert A. Day: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 5th Edition)

  • Example 1: Scientist A designs the experiments, and tells Technician B exactly how to do the experiments. If the experiments work and a new discovery is made and a manuscript results, Scientist A is the sole author and Technician B is recognized in the acknowledgements section.
  • Example 2: Scientist A designs the experiments, Technician B carries them out but they do not work. Technician B suggests some changes to the protocol, the experiments then work because of the changes and a discovery results. Scientist A and Technician B are now both authors.

* Based on Recommended Guidelines for Authorship on Manuscripts by the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities