Friday, September 18, 2015

Authorships are Not Party Favors - Not Everyone Gets One

Publications are where it is at. For better or worse, "publication record" is the cover by which scientists are judged. So make sure they are accurate. Know who deserves an authorship and who does not.

Not everyone gets an authorship. Even if they really REALLY want it. There are rules
about who deserves to be on your next paper. So don't allow yourself to get strong armed or guilted by everyone who lends you a hand or loans you a reagent. Instead show them the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) rules for what makes an earned authorship and tell them maybe next time. Or better yet, tell them what they CAN do to earn an authorship.

In short, Real Authors should have

1) contributed SUBSTANTIALLY to the design/conception, acquisition or analysis of the work

2) AND drafted/revised the intellectual content of the paper

3) AND have approved the final paper

4) AND have agreed to be responsible for all aspects of the work, including the accuracy

It is important to follow these authorship rules, as most biomedical journals follow them. Additionally your University or Department may also have similar rules. But also following these rules helps prevents the meritless concentration of vanity publications in the hands of a few scientists who happen to have useful models/techniques.

It takes the collective action of individual scientists (like you!) to make authorship allocation fair. Without it we risk publication records becoming a reflection of political, not scientific, strengths.

For the officially detailed ICMJE statement please be sure to visit their site.

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