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Fact Sheet
Authorship in MEDLINE®

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) encourages authors, journal editors and publishers to consult the guidelines of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors ( and Council of Science Editors ( when determining authorship attribution for a manuscript being prepared for publication. 

A MEDLINE citation may contain an array of personal author names, group (or corporate) author names, and collaborator names.  This Fact Sheet explains the current policies that are followed in designating these forms of authorship in MEDLINE. 

Personal Author Names

Personal author names are included in MEDLINE when the author names appear in the article byline, or are explicitly identified anywhere else in the text of the article as the authors or as the members of the writing group or writing committee for the article. 

The authors are entered in the same order in which they are published in the journal article.  There is currently no limit to the number of authors that may be included for a MEDLINE citation, except when the author names are published in non-Roman alphabets.  (For information about current and past limitations to the number of authors included in MEDLINE, see

Group (Corporate) Authorship

Group author names (also known as corporate, organization or collective names) are included in MEDLINE when such names appear in the article byline. 

More than one group name may appear for a citation, and a group name may appear along with personal author names.   When both personal and group author names are present, they appear in most PubMed® displays in the order in which they are published in the article.  Names published in the article byline appear in PubMed before names that may be published elsewhere in the article.

Group names are entered for a MEDLINE citation exactly the way they appear in the article, except that definite or indefinite article words such as “the” or “a” at the beginning of the name are not included. 

For articles that represent a formal guideline or practice guideline (and thus indexed with the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) publication types Guideline or Practice Guideline), the name of the guideline-issuing body is entered as a group name for the MEDLINE citation, even if that name does not appear in the article byline. 

Collaborator Names

When a group name for a specific consortium, committee, study group, or the like appears in an article byline, the personal names of the members of that group may be published in the article text.  Such names are entered as collaborator names for the MEDLINE citation. 

Collaborator names are entered for a MEDLINE citation only when a group (corporate) author name is present for the citation.  Collaborator names are entered exactly as they are published in the article, and in the order in which they are published in the article.  Collaborator names are included redundantly even if they have also been included as authors for the citation (because they also appear in the byline or are explicitly identified in the article as the authors).  Collaborator names may also appear redundantly in the MEDLINE citation if they appear redundantly in the published article, such as when the collaborators are listed in the article by various subcommittees and an individual is a member of more than one subcommittee.


PubMed’s display of a citation that includes personal authors, group author, and a link to collaborator names:

PubMed display of a citation, showing CORGI Consortium as an author, and link to Collaborators below author list

Clicking on the above link will display the names entered as collaborators for the citation:

Expanded Collaborators list on a PubMed display

Searching for Authors, Group Authors and Collaborators in PubMed

To search for an author name, use the search tag [au]. For example,

jaeger j [au]

To search for a group (corporate) name, use the search tag [cn]. For example,

corgi consortium [cn]

To search for a collaborator (“investigator”) name, use the search tag [ir]. For example,

maher e [ir]

If a personal name is entered in a PubMed search without a search tag, all citations will be retrieved for which the name is an author or collaborator. A group author name entered without a search tag will retrieve citations with that name as an author occurrence as well as citations with the word(s) in any other field of the citation.  The search tag [cn] may be used to restrict retrieval to the group (corporate) name field, e.g., corgi [cn].

Further information about how to search for author, group author or collaborator names may be found in the “Searching by author” section of PubMed Help.


Author, group author, and collaborator names are entered for MEDLINE exactly as they are published in the journal article.  If the journal article has misprinted a name, the MEDLINE citation will only be corrected if a formal erratum notice is published in the journal.  The MEDLINE policies related to errata are detailed at:

If there is an error in MEDLINE because the author information in the MEDLINE citation does not match the author information in the published article, contact NLM Customer Service.  However, such errors should only be reported for citations tagged [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE].  Citations tagged  [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] or [PubMed - in process] have not yet completed quality assurance processing.  It may be assumed that any errors that exist will be corrected when the citation achieves final [indexed for MEDLINE] status.


For additional information, contact NLM Customer Service.

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