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Harvard Medical School’s "Authorship Guidelines”http://www.hms.harvard.edu/integrity/authorship.html
The Authorship Questions:
(from: DISCOVERY, Research at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Special Edition 2007)
The question of authorship was formally addressed by the Council of Science Editors’ (CSE) Task Force on Authorship. They looked at the personal, social, ethical, and legal problems of biomedical authorship in an effort to determine some possible solutions.
The task force identified what they consider the two major problems of authorship: "misattribution of credit and failure to take responsibility." For the sake of brevity, we will focus on credit here. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has specific guidelines for authorship: a true author, according to ICMJE standards, is "someone who has made substantial intellectual contributions to a published study."
Specifically, ICMJE recommends that all three of these conditions be met before including an author’s name in the byline:
• "substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data
• "drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content
• "final approval of the version to be published."
Furthermore, ICMJE asserts that an author should not be someone who only secured funding, collected data, or supervised a research group. As the CSE task force points out, though, senior researchers often devote much of their time to obtaining funding, and why would they work to get funding if they were not to be included as authors?
The acknowledgements section is the place for the scientific advisors, according to ICMJE, and that is also the place to recognize purely technical writing help, animal care staff, and data collectors.
How do we ensure integrity in authorship reporting?
Still, there are no simple solutions. After all, faculty depend on publications for tenure, and funding sources award money to researchers who have proven they can achieve results and report them, a process most easily measured by authorship. All these factors contribute to the decision of whether to include Dr. Demanding in that byline. And while we have no control over what Dr. Demanding demands of us, we can choose to make ethical decisions when it comes to our own names being in a byline.
1. Task Force on Authorship. Who’s the author? Problems with biomedical authorship, and some possible solutions. Science Editor. 2000;23:111- 118.
2. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication. Philadelphia, PA: ICMJE; 2006.
3. Rennie D, Flanagin A, Yank V. The contributions of authors. JAMA. 2000;284:89-91.
Anneke Moresco spent the last year doing post doctoral work at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW). Anneke and colleagues participated in a conservation and reproduction project for the black-footed cat in South Africa. See the spotlight HERE. Photo credit Dr. Alex Sliwa (curator at the Cologne zoo)