A simple form could prevent authorship issues in Cochrane manuscripts: A cohort study


We aimed to investigate authorship issues after the implementation of an authorship declaration form in a Cochrane Review Group.

The Cochrane Colorectal Group uses an authorship declaration form that consists of three parts: (1) manuscript information, (2) documentation for roles according to the four authorship criteria of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), and (3) identification information of individual authors and signed approval. The manuscripts' contact authors were responsible for collecting the forms from all coauthors. This observational cohort study reports on all authorship issues in authorship declaration forms collected from February 2020 to December 2023.

We received 276/277 authorship declaration forms or replies from authors (response rate 99.6%) from 44 manuscripts, including 52% protocols and 48% reviews. There were authorship issues present in 14/44 (32%) of the manuscripts, and the most common issue was that not all authors fulfilled all four ICMJE authorship criteria. Six gift authors were removed from by-lines. Issues in nine of the 14 manuscripts were resolved by the author group when informing them about the ICMJE authorship criteria and guidance from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The issues in the remaining five manuscripts were unresolved since the manuscripts were transferred or rejected, thus, ceased to be developed by the Cochrane Colorectal Group.

Authorship issues were raised in almost one-third of manuscripts. Most issues were resolved and six gift authorships were prevented. The awareness of authorship criteria is sharpened when all authors are individually asked to fill out and sign a form. This could help decrease the rate of unethical authorships in Cochrane publications and contribute to more ethical and robust evidence production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCochrane Evidence Synthesis and Methods
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)e12053
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • authorship
  • cohort
  • editorial policies
  • publishing
  • review literature as topic


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