What do the terms "lead author" and "co-author" mean?
Who can qualify to be the lead author of a paper? Who can be a co-author? What do these terms exactly refer to?
In a research paper with multiple authors, one author is designated as the lead author. He/she:
- Takes the overall responsibility for the manuscript
- Is usually the corresponding author i.e. someone who takes charge of getting approval from all the other authors and communicating with the journal
- Is typically the first author of the paper, which means he/she has made the most significant contribution to the research, and has also written and edited a major part of the work
Anyone else who fulfills the authorship criteria can qualify to be a co-author of the paper. According to the ICMJE guidelines, anyone who fulfils all of the following criteria can be an author:
1. Contributes significantly to the conception, design, execution, and/or analysis and interpretation of data
2. Participates in drafting and/or revising part of the manuscript for intellectual content
3. Approves of the version to be published
4. Agrees to be accountable for all aspects of the work