Acknowledgment and Authorship at NYSBC

In addition to usage of instrumentation, investigators at member institutions of NYSBC are afforded support for research activities by NYSBC Scientific Staff. Such support includes courses and workshops organized at NYSBC, which are typically open to all qualified members of a member research group (students, postdoctoral scientists, etc.), as well as basic training and assistance with experiments for individual researchers. Scientific Staff time and resources are necessarily a limited quantity and the latter activities must be balanced to (i) ensure that all member institutions are appropriately served, and (ii) contributions of Scientific Staff, essential for their scientific development and for national recognition of NYSBC, are duly recognized. Individualized interactions between Scientific Staff and investigators on research projects form a continuum from limited engagement with expert users to full participation as collaborators.

The purpose of this document is to clarify when in this continuum, the involvement of Scientific Staff in a project reaches the level for which co-authorship on publications is warranted. Beyond these guidelines, group leaders at member institutions are encouraged to discuss anticipated involvement of Scientific Staff with the appropriate Director at the start of a project using NYSBC resources to anticipate potential authorships (recognizing that the dividing line could change as a project evolves).

NYSBC itself and relevant NYSBC funding sources must be acknowledged in all publications. The language to be utilized in acknowledgments is available on the NYSBC website, under Publications. In addition, individual members of the Scientific Staff should be acknowledged whenever their assistance has been more than de minimus, but not at the level affording co-authorship.

As in all scientific publications, co-authorship for a member of the Scientific Staff is warranted when an individual has made a significant contribution to the scientific work being described. More specifically, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) defines the first criteria for authorship to be “substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data”. Scientific staff members meeting this standard may also participate in “drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content”. Approximate criteria to be used in evaluating this standard are provided in the following table, while recognizing that each of these criteria will be met in different ways for the various research activities at NYSBC.

Not Substantial Substantial
Conception and design Provides guidance on latest or most appropriate versions of experimental protocols available at NYSBC Meets with investigators at beginning or during project to develop the experimental protocol to be utilized, when the Staff Member is providing major guidance.
Acquisition of data Provides basic training afforded to all users of NYSBC and gives occasional advice on experimental protocols or provides occasional assistance in acquisition (checking or starting an instrument when user is not at NYSBC for example). Provides continued substantial assistance to a user in setting up experiments or acquires key data on behalf of the user.
Analysis or interpretation of data Confirms to investigator that a given experiment ran successfully by preliminary assessment of data quality Performs more than preliminary data assessment or participates in interpretation of the data towards goals of the investigation.

Principal investigators, who might not actually be present when members of their research groups are using NYSBC resources, are expected to discuss co-authorship issues with their group members (to sensitize them to the importance of this issue) and to discuss any areas of uncertainty with Directors of the appropriate Departments at NYSBC.