What Is an Author?


The author is the person who writes a book, article, play, or other written work. An author can also be a group of writers who collaborate on a single project. The word author has a broader meaning than simply writer; the word can refer to the creator of a work, including the composer or director of a musical piece or the inventor of a device.

Unlike fictional characters, real authors often put their personality, views of the world, values, and more into their writing. This is why it can be so satisfying for readers to connect with an author – their essence bleeds into the pages. It is common for authors to share personal information on their website, including where they live and their family make-up. They may include their hobbies and interests, especially those that are non-divisive or related to their writing. It’s also very common for authors to list awards they have won, if applicable. It’s important to be honest in these sections, as people who claim achievements that are not true or valid can damage credibility and lose reader trust.

As a literary concept, the author has long served as an invaluable principle of continuity: at a theoretical level, it describes the originator of a text that is manifested on all scales, from individual word choice to complete works and even recurring textual motifs. For this reason, it is a central element in the study of genre and in critical analysis.

The definition of the term has shifted over time, reflecting social change and changing notions of what constitutes literature. For example, in science and medicine, the reference to an author has become less significant than it once was (though it is still used in some fields such as mathematics), but it retains importance for historical and ethical reasons. In the context of scholarly research, the term can be more broadly applied to researchers who contribute to a collaborative work that has been published.

When preparing to publish in a journal, it is the responsibility of the individuals who conduct the research to determine who will be named as authors and to confirm that everyone identified as an author meets all four criteria before submission. The individuals should discuss this ideally at the planning stage and then throughout the process, making adjustments where necessary. It is not the role of journal editors to determine who qualifies or does not qualify for authorship or to arbitrate authorship conflicts. The use of the term author is also subject to other ethical considerations, which can be discussed in a variety of publications, including guides for authors and editorial policies on plagiarism. A comprehensive collection of resources on this topic can be found at the Scholarly Publishing Institute’s Authorship and Attribution website.