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Advanced Information Research Skills


In this section you will consider the requirements that define authorship as outlined by The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, authorship guidelines, and NDA tools you can use to manage your research authorship. As a researcher, you will most likely be an author and/or co-author on scholarly publications such as journal articles, conference papers and books. Ensuring your work is accurately and fairly represented is critical to your research reputation and relationships with other researchers.

Your author profile

Build your author profile and create the unique YOU.  Many efforts are currently underway to disambiguate author names and assign unique identification numbers so that publications by a given author can be reliably identified.  Research identifiers help others find specific authors work and to distinguish the author’s research activities and outputs from those of other researchers with similar names.

There are a variety of web-based databases where authors can create a unique identifier linking all their articles and other relevant information. Unique identifiers clearly differentiate authors with similar names. 

  • If institutional affiliation and contact information changes, the link between you and your scholarly work is maintained. 
  • A profile pulls all research together in one place. Avoids problems including variations in authors' names and confusion with common names. 
  • Profiles link work done with multiple granting agencies, research groups, or institutions. 

Profiles can help: 

  • authors to find potential collaborators 
  • institutions to collect showcase and evaluate the activities of their faculty 
  • publishers to simplify the publishing workflow, including peer review 
  • funding organizations to evaluate scholarly impact, simplify grant submission workflows and track the research they funded. 
  • ORCID is the upcoming international standard. All researchers at NDA are advised to join the registry. ORCID is an international, interdisciplinary, open, and not-for-profit organisation created for the benefit of research institutions, funding organisations, publishers, and researchers to enhance the scientific discovery process and improve collaboration.
  • ResearcherID is a global, multi-disciplinary scholarly research community. If your research publications are indexed in Web of Knowledge, you can register with ResearcherID.
  • Scopus differentiates authors and their publications with Author ID. 

See our guide on researcher identity, linked below.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (see Principle 4 and Responsibility 25) has clearly defined minimum requirements that define authorship as being based on substantial contributions in a combination of three criteria:  

  1. Conception and design of a project 
  2. Analysis and interpretation of research data  
  3. Drafting significant parts of a work or critically revising it so as to contribute to the interpretation.  

These criteria are in turn based on the Vancouver Protocol developed by a group of editors that later evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Researchers apply these three criteria in determining authorship and the contribution of each author for a particular research outcome.

The guidelines by the ICMJE assist collaborating researchers to assign primary and secondary authorship. As your research partnerships develop and increase, you will need to establish fair attribution of authorship.

Determining author order
Author order and its relationship to credit and collaboration should be discussed early in the process of the writing the manuscript through a joint decision of all authors.

Be aware that some disciplines and some journals specify how authors should appear on a by-line. For instance, in biological sciences, the first author typically makes the greatest contribution and the last has a leadership role. In mathematics and theoretical computer science the authors are listed in alphabetical order of their surnames, irrespective of their contribution to the work, using the Hardy-Littlewood Rule (PDF linked below).

See the NDA information page on authorship and contributorship linked below.

General tips when assigning authorship

  • It is much easier to clarify authorship arrangements early in the drafting of documents.   
  • The contributions of authors may change through the writing process.  
  • The hardest worker is not necessarily the one making the biggest contribution as an author.