Consent for publication (Author)

From The Embassy of Good Science

Consent for publication (Author)

What is this about?

Before submitting an article to a journal, all authors must approve the manuscript and give their consent for submission and publication.[1] Disregarding this principle can lead to some legal issues and in some cases to retraction of the article.

  1. Radhika NS. Ethical declarations that authors should provide at the journal submission stage. Editage Insights. 2018 Sept 18. [cited 2020 Oct 29]. Available from:

Why is this important?

When submitting an article to a journal, author’s consent for publication must be attached. Written formal consent ensures that the publisher has the author’s permission to publish research findings.[1] With the consent, the author gives the publisher license of the copyright which provides the publisher with the exclusive right to publish and sell the research findings in all languages, in whole or in part.[1] All authors guarantee that the research findings have not been previously published. If they were published, the authors should obtain permission necessary to publish it.[1][2]

However, scenarios with multiple authors can present difficulties for obtaining consent: One or more authors can refuse to give their consent, some authors cannot be tracked down,[3] whereas sometimes authors withdraw the consent.[4] In case when not all authors give the consent, the article can be retracted.[3]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Consent to publish. Boom Uitgevers Den Haag. [cited 2020 Oct 29]. Available from:
  2. Radhika NS. Ethical declarations that authors should provide at the journal submission stage. Editage Insights. 2018 Sept 18. [cited 2020 Oct 29]. Available from:
  3. 3.0 3.1 Consent for publication (author). [cited 2020 Oct 29]. Available from:
  4. Banerjee A. Withdrawal syndrome: Author’s dilemma and editor’s agony. Med. j. Dr. D Y Patil Univ. 2017;10(2):115-117.

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

There are numerous cases of violation of publication ethics with regards to authors’ rights. For instance, when journals publish articles without the authors’ consent. One of the representative examples is an article on the quality of therapeutic trials in perinatal medicine, written by Dr Jon Tyson and his colleagues and published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1983.[1] Six months after that, the paper was published in full in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology without the authors’ consent only to be described “as a poor study” in a hostile accompanying editorial.[1][2]

Another case regards dispute between the authors. An article was submitted to a journal by corresponding author (CA), at the time a PhD student, and published online. Later, co-author A (head of the research group) informed the publisher that the paper was submitted to a journal by CA during her absence (maternity leave) and that she as well as other 7 co-authors were not informed about the publication. Additionally, she requested the retraction of the article. She also mentioned that she had recently submitted an updated version of the same paper to another journal and that all authors, including CA, had agreed to the publication. When journal contacted CA, he stated that he had asked co-author A for permission to submit the article but that the had not received an answer for one year.[3] The CA replied that he had signed contract at the research institution where co-author A worked and where the research had been conducted. He agreed to retract the article. One of the co-authors also contacted the publisher asserting that CA had published the paper without his approval and he also suggested retraction of the paper. [3]In the end, the authors submitted an updated version of the same paper to another journal.[3]

This case was discussed at the COPE Forum. The Forum suggested for future notice that when a journal receives a manuscript, it must send an acknowledgement to all of the authors, not just the corresponding author.[3] Most Forum members agreed that there was no ground for retraction of the article, because there was no issue concerning the scientific content of the article. However, since the editor did not have authors’ consent for publication, some members of the Forum concluded that the authors did have some ground for retraction.[3]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kmietowicz Z. Journal apologises for publishing author's work without permission. BMJ. 2003;327(7421):947.
  2. Smith R. Editorial Misconduct, Freedom and Accountability: Amateurs at Work. CrossFit. 2020 July 28. [cited 2020 Oct 29]. Available from:
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Consent for publication (author). COPE. [cited 2020 Oct 29]. Available from:
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