RCR: Authorship

A good overview of authorship was recently published HERE. In the Friesen lab we follow the PNAS (USA) guidelines:
Authorship must be limited to those who have contributed
substantially to the work. The corresponding author must have
obtained permission from all authors for the submission of each
version of the paper and for any change in authorship.
All collaborators share some degree of responsibility for any
paper they coauthor. Some coauthors have responsibility for the
entire paper as an accurate, verifiable report of the research. These
include coauthors who are accountable for the integrity of the data
reported in the paper, carry out the analysis, write the manuscript,
present major findings at conferences, or provide scientific leadership to junior colleagues. Coauthors who make specific, limited
contributions to a paper are responsible for their contributions
but may have only limited responsibility for other results. While
not all coauthors may be familiar with all aspects of the research
presented in their paper, all collaborators should have in place an
appropriate process for reviewing the accuracy of the reported
results. Authors must indicate their specific contributions to the
published work. This information will be published as a footnote
to the paper. Examples of designations include:
• Designed research
• Performed research
• Contributed new reagents or analytic tools
• Analyzed data
• Wrote the paper
Most biology disciplines I’m familiar with have first (contributed the most) and last (typically the PI) authors determined at the time that manuscripts are being written. Co-first authorship can occur when both contribute equally. All authors must have contributed intellectually—technicians/assistants who collect data but make no intellectual contribution are typically not authors but can be put in the acknowledgements.
Other people that can be acknowledged are project advisors who don’t otherwise contribute (there is a fuzzy line between advice and intellectual input), reviewers (if not anonymous), anonymous reviewers, and sometimes people who have died that the paper commemorates (I’ve seen several of these recently, including the Azotobacter vinelandii genome…!). Funding sources always go in the acknowledgements. It is polite to ask someone that you want to include in the acknowledgements. Some people acknowledge spouses, or pets, or other strange things. Acknowledgement sections are often entertaining. Some people also put jokes in figure files