Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Should the deceased be listed as authors?
  1. Gert Helgesson1,
  2. William Bülow2,
  3. Stefan Eriksson3,
  4. Tove E Godskesen3,4
  1. 1 Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics, Department of Learning, Informatics, Management, and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2 Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. 3 Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  4. 4 Department of Health Care Sciences, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Professor Gert Helgesson, Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics, Department of Learning, Informatics, Management, and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm SE 17177, Sweden; gert.helgesson{at}


Sometimes participants in research collaboration die before the paper is accepted for publication. The question we raise in this paper is how authorship should be handled in such situations. First, the outcome of a literature survey is presented. Taking this as our starting point, we then go on to discuss authorship of the dead in relation to the requirements of the Vancouver rules. We argue that in principle the deceased can meet the requirements laid down in these authorship guidelines. However, to include a deceased researcher as author requires a strong justification. The more the person has been involved in the research and writing process before he or she passes away, the stronger the justification for inclusion.

  • authorship
  • deceased
  • research article
  • researcher

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors GH introduced the theme for the paper and wrote the first version; he also finalised the paper. TG carried out the literature review and wrote the first version of the text relating to the procedures and findings of this review. All authors were involved in discussions of the paper and revised the manuscript at several occasions, contributing with new ideas and arguments and other improvements of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This is a theoretical paper, complemented by literature review. There is no ethics approval.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.