A point that is starting a discussion of authorship may be the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines. In 1978, a small set of editors of general medical journals met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the National Library of Medicine, were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved in to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, which meets annually. The ICMJE gradually has broadened its concerns to incorporate ethical principles related to publication in biomedical journals. Over time, ICMJE has issued updated versions of what exactly are called Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals along with other statements relating to editorial policy. The most recent update was in November 2003. Approximately 500 biomedical journals subscribe into the guidelines.
According to the ICMJE guidelines:
The Schцn Case: Taking responsibility for others’ work
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- Authorship credit should be centered on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of information, or analysis and interpretation of information; 2) drafting the content or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of this version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.
- When a sizable, multi-center group has conducted the task, the group should identify the people who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. Him or her should fully meet the requirements for authorship defined above and editors will ask him or her to complete journal-specific author and conflict of great interest disclosure forms. When submitting an organization author manuscript, the written essay papers corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and should clearly identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals will generally list other members of the combined group in the acknowledgements. The National Library of Medicine indexes the combined group name together with names of people the group has recognized as being directly responsible for the manuscript.
- Acquisition of funding, number of data, or supervision that is general of research group, alone, will not justify authorship.
- Each author must have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions for the content.
- The order of authorship regarding the byline should be a joint decision associated with co-authors. Authors should be willing to give an explanation for order in which authors are listed.
- All contributors that do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an acknowledgments section.
C. Problems with ICMJE recommendations
Two major issues with the ICMJE guidelines are that many people in the scientific community are unaware of them and several scientists try not to subscribe to them. According to Stanford University’s Mildred Cho and Martha McKee, writing in Science’s Next Wave in 2002, a 1994 study showed that 21% of authors of basic science papers and 30% of authors of clinical studies had no involvement in the conception or design of a project, the design of this study, the analysis and interpretation of information, or even the writing or revisions. Actual practice, it seems, disagrees with ICMJE recommendations.
Eugene Tarnow, writing in Science and Ethics in 2002, reports findings related to your 1994 study. He cited a 1992 study of 1,000 fellows that are postdoctoral the University of California, San Francisco, for which fewer than half knew about any university, school, laboratory, or departmental guidelines for research and publication. Half thought that being head regarding the laboratory was sufficient for authorship, and slightly fewer believed that getting funding was enough for authorship.
A research by Tarnow of postdoctoral fellows in physics in the 1990s also shows divergences from ICMJE precepts and points to many other concerns about authorship within the sciences. Tarnow unearthed that 74% of this postdoctoral fellows did not recognize the American Physical Society’s guidelines or thought it was vague or open to interpretations that are multiple. Half the guidelines were thought by the respondents suggested that obtaining funding was sufficient for authorship, although the other half did not. The findings also revealed that in 75% regarding the postdoc-supervisor relationships authorship criteria was not discussed; in 61% the postdoc’s criteria are not “clearly agreed upon”; as well as in 70% of this relationships the criteria for designating other authors had not been “clearly agreed upon.”
Clearly, different laboratories have different practices about who must certanly be included as an author on a paper. At some institutions, it’s quite common for heads of departments to be listed as authors, as so-called “guest authors” or “gift authors,” even though they never have directly contributed to your research. At other institutions, laboratory heads would routinely include as authors technicians who may have performed many experiments but might not have made a substantial intellectual contribution to a paper, while others would give a technician only an acknowledgment at the conclusion of a paper. Some supervisors that are academic have their graduate students collect data, do research, and jot down results, yet not provide them with credit on a paper, although some will give authorship credit to students. Some foreigners in the usa may feel obligated to put mentors from their home countries on a paper even though they did not take part in the study.
Alternatives to ICMJE
Another problem using the ICMJE guidelines that includes come up is the fact that each author may not be in a position to take full responsibility for the totality of a paper. In a day and age of increasing specialization, one person knowing most of the statistical analyses and methodology that is scientific went into getting good results could be unlikely. Some journals, such as the British Medical Journal and Lancet, have turned away from the idea of an author and instead think in terms of someone who is willing to take responsibility for the content of the paper as a result. The Journal of this American Medical Association also now requires authors to submit a questionnaire attesting towards the nature of the contribution to a paper.
The British Medical Journal says that listing authorship according to ICMJE guidelines will not clarify that is accountable for overall content and excludes those whose contribution happens to be the number of data. As a result, the journal lists contributors in 2 ways: it publishes the authors’ names at the beginning of the paper, and lists contributors, a few of whom may possibly not be included as authors, by the end, and offers information on who planned, conducted, and reported the work. One or more of this contributors are thought “guarantors” of this paper. The guarantor must make provision for a written statement that he / she accepts full responsibility for the conduct of this study, had use of the data, and controlled your decision to write. BMJ says that researchers must determine among themselves the particular nature of each person’s contribution, and encourages discussion that is open all participants.
American Psychological Association excerpt on publications.
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With an increase of knowing of the issue, ICMJE now has with its guidelines a clause concerning contributorship: “Editors are strongly encouraged to produce and implement a contributorship policy, as well as an insurance policy on identifying who is in charge of the integrity associated with the act as a complete.”
E. Other authorship responsibilities
Besides clarifying the matter of who is an author and who deserves credit for work, an author has many other responsibilities (what is listed below has been adapted from Michael Kalichman’s educational material for the University of California, north park):
Checklist for Authors from Science’s Next Wave
- Good writing: Authors must write well and explain methods, data analysis and conclusions so a reader can understand them and also replicate findings. Charts, tables and graphs must additionally be clear.
- Accuracy: Although every effort must certanly be meant to not need mistakes in a paper, be they in a footnote or from the research itself, unintentional errors creep in. Authors must be careful.
- Context and citations: the writer needs to put research into appropriate context and provide citations into the manuscript that both agree and disagree aided by the work.
- Publishing negative results: If researchers never publish negative results, it creates a false impression and biases the literature. If results are not published from a drug trial, for example, that either shows a medication does not work or has unwanted effects, clinicians reviewing the literature might get the wrong impression concerning the medication’s true value. Because of this, other researchers may continue with studies about a potentially bad drug.