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Q&A: Is there a limitation to the maximum number of co-authors on a paper?

Is there a limitation for the number of authors and co authors for a single research?

3 Answers

There is no limitation to the number of co-authors on a paper. However, it is important to ensure that all of them have contributed in significant ways and can actually qualify to be a co-author. As per the ICMJE guidelines, authorship can be granted only to those who meet all of the following requirements:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. 

In case come of the researchers do not meet all of the above criteria, they can be listed as contributors. For multi-author papers with a large number of authors, many journals prefer to have an authorship contribution statement listing the individual contributions of authors in the cover letter. 

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The limit to the number of authors in an article depends on the journal. Most journals have specific guidelines about the maximum number of authors allowed in a manuscript. Ideally, all the authors who have made the substantially evident contribution to the study should be added to the manuscript during submission. There can be an extensive list of authors in multi-centre studies involving multiple research groups. In such cases, it is ideal to have a group consortium/research group in the author list and include the individual names separately. Ref.: Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Ethical Considerations in the Conduct and Reporting of Research: Authorship and Contributorship. http://www.icmje.org/ethical_1author.html
Most of the journals do not posit any limitation on the maximum number of authors for original articles. But Case Report or other shorter article types often have limitations on the number of authors. In this regard, the target journal’s submission guidelines should be checked in this regard.


This content belongs to the Conducting Research Stage

Conducting research is the first and most exciting step in a researcher's journey. If you are currently in this stage of your publishing journey, subscribe & learn about best practices to sail through this stage and set yourself up for successful publication.