There are suggested guidelines for when to include core staff in publications?

The following guidelines(1) are intended to ensure that research performed in core facilities is appropriately recognized and cited. They are compatible with university authorship guidelines, as well as with recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors that describe who is an author and what merits authorship in publications (
Guideline 1: The following activities should be acknowledged on manuscripts and grants, but they do not by themselves meet the criteria for authorship.
  • Core scientist provided routine training or services for the user.
  • Core scientist collected data for users that required technical skill but did not involve interpretation of data.
  • Core scientist reviewed the manuscript or grant for intellectual content or advised on a revision of it.
  • A technical question from a referee about data presented in the manuscript required a response from the core scientist with technical expertise relevant to the project.
  • Lab head or PI provided general supervision of the research project without significant intellectual input.
  • Lab head or PI provided funding for the project without significant intellectual input.
Guideline 2: If all of the following conditions are met, then a core scientist should be invited to be a coauthor on the manuscript. If a core scientist contributed 1 or more of these, but not all, then it is up to the discretion of the PI whether authorship is warranted.
  • Core scientist contributed significantly to the conception or design of the project.
  • Core scientist provided “nonroutine” training and services for a user. This includes development of novel procedures for data acquisition or data analyses.
  • Core scientist wrote a portion of the manuscript (including Materials and Methods, figure legends, or technical details).
  • Core scientist approved and took responsibility for the intellectual content of her/his contribution to the manuscript.
  • Core scientist produced a figure for the manuscript using data collected by the core scientist.
Guideline 3: If any of the following conditions are met, then the core scientist should be invited to be a coauthor on the manuscript.
  • Core scientist acquired, analyzed, and interpreted data for the project that required unique expertise and skills.
Guideline 4: A core scientist has the discretion to turn down an invitation for authorship if she/he believes that data and interpretation are not consistent with professional standards. The latter may include withdrawal of data or figures from the manuscript generated by the core scientist.
Guideline 5: Disagreement over the type of recognition or withdrawal of data shall be handled initially by the faculty director of the facility. The faculty director will meet with the user, PI, and core scientist to help to resolve the dispute. If she/he is unable to obtain a solution that satisfies all parties, then the research dean of the appropriate school will resolve the dispute. Failure to abide by the decision of the research dean may result in loss of privileges to use the core facility.
Practical tips for core scientists:
  • Post “Publication Guidelines for Users of University Core Facilities” prominently on your website.
  • Communicate guidelines to all users, lab heads, and PIs.
  • Discuss roles and responsibilities at the beginning of a project to ensure that they are clearly understood. If you believe these go beyond routine services and include substantial intellectual involvement, then make that clear from the start. You may want to create a user agreement that spells out roles and responsibilities and expectations regarding authorship.
  • Be clear that payment for services does not substitute for recognition of intellectual contribution to a project.
  • Offer to read drafts of manuscripts to ensure the technical aspects are sound before going to press (even when you do not contribute to the work). This builds trust and respect with users, lab heads, and PIs.
  • Send reminders to users, lab heads, and PIs to acknowledge you and your facility in grants and publications using data generated in your facility. A good practice is to send this reminder immediately after they have used your facility.
Quoted directly from: Hockberger, P., Weiss, J., Rosen, A., & Ott, A. (2018). Building a Sustainable Portfolio of Core Facilities: a Case Study. Journal of biomolecular techniques : JBT, 29(3), 79–92. doi:10.7171/jbt.18-2903-003