Authorship: Why a policy is so important

আলতামাস পাশা লেখাটি পড়েছেন 44 জন পাঠক।
 In the field of scientific research and dissemination publication is the only key to academic success and career development. In any case, authorship is a distinct way of giving credit to any intellectual scientific or non-scientific output. Authorship is important for academic recognition and institutional reputation (1). The appropriate recognition of authorship is an integral to the intellectual integrity of research carried out at any research institution. 

Authorship of research reports is a crucial issue in communicating science. It establishes accountability and responsibility for the information published anywhere. Not all the authors are aware of authorship criteria neither even in the developing countries nor in developed country. Thus, the importance of transparent authorship policy is well recognized among researchers all over the world, whether institutional or academic sphere (2).

The lack of formal authorship policy or guideline sometimes raise conflict and could be regarded as a dilemma in disseminating research findings. Misappropriation of authorship may raise question to the integrity of authorship system. Therefore, Wagena rightly asked, “Why would we need guidelines for authorship if senior faculty behaved fairly?” It is quite understandable that the dishonest and unfair behavior of senior faculty regarding authorship has serious consequences for the development of a junior researchers (1). van Rooyen, et al. attempted to compare whether and to what extent authors’ declared contributions to their research conform to the uniform guidelines set by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) also known as Vancouver Group, but many authors consider these to be unrealistic and unnecessarily restrictive (3). These guidelines are unknown to many researchers and often disregarded and ignored (4). It was observed by Bhopal that the ICMJE’s uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals were being disregarded by senior authors (2). Yank also observed that these guidelines not congruent with the self-identified contributions of researchers (5). In a Chinese study it was also found that low rate of authors meeting the ICMJE and JAMA criteria for authorship suggestive of promoting authorship education (6).

Depending upon our above discussions, we may define authorship as both and credit and responsibility. The ICMJE (the Vancouver Group) has recommended that the authorship credit should be based on a. Substantial contribution to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and b. Drafting the work or revising it critically for important content and c. Final approval of the version to be published and d. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. 

Authors should meet all these conditions. Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone, does not justify authorship. All researchers designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content (8). General supervision of the research group is also not sufficient for authorship. Any parts of an article critical to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author. A paper with corporate or collective authorship must specify the key persons responsible for the article; others contributing to the work should be recognized separately.

Although there is consensus on some of contributions that do not alone justify identification as an author. Those who regarded as professional writers only participated in drafting of a manuscript and did not have a role in the design or conduct of the study on the interpretation of findings should be identified in the acknowledgement section along with information about potential conflicts of interest including whether they were compensated for the writing assistance and, if so, by what quantity. It is unacceptable to neglect to identify such personals.

There are other contributions that alone do not justify authorship include; assisting the research through advice, providing research accommodation, departmental oversight, gaining financial support, isolated analysis or providing reagents /patients/ animals/ other study materials.

In a response to overcome the difficulties with defining authorship in science, some scientific publication stakeholders began to advocate for a ‘contribution model’ in which published articles include contributor list rather than an author byline and an acknowledgements section. Adoption of this model propose that doing so would better enable editors to elicit actual contributors from authors and to convey a more accurate sense of each author’s responsibility for the study (9). Such model of ‘contributorship’ has been adopted by a number of major biomedical journals. The general aim of contributorship disclosure is to have authors describe, on the basis of a contributor taxonomy created by journal editors. Exactly what author did during the course of the research from its inception to publication, such as managing funding for the study, gather subjects; coordinating, collecting and analyzing the data and writing and revising the manuscript (9). Based on this model, authors are also expected  to designate their functional role within the group; this also includes for example; principal investigator, co -investigator, statistician or contributing author. Therefore it is argued that this additional layer of disclosure contributes to greater transparency on the part of authors (10). The question is what authorship problems are editors specifically trying to identify and try to address? Therefore also a range of inappropriate types of authorship have been described, including guest authorship, honorary or gift authorship and ghost authorship (10,11,12). Gust authorship has been defined as authorship has been defined as authorship based solely on an expectation that inclusion of a particular name will improve the chances that the article will be published or increased the perceived status of the publication. Actually the ‘ guest author makes no distinct contributions to the study, therefore, this person deserves none of the criteria for authorship. Honorary or gift authorship has been defined  as authorship based absolutely on a insubstantial affiliation with a study. A salient feature would be ‘authorship’ based on one’s position as the head of a department in which the study took place (13).
On the other hand, Ghost authors participate in the research, data analysis, and or writing of a manuscript but are not named or disclosed in the author byline or acknowledgements.  Examples of ghost authors include undisclosed contributors who are employees of pharmaceutical or device companies, medical writers, marketing and public relations writers or junior staff writing for appointed officials (14). Any person who makes a substantial contributions to a manuscript should be listed in the author byline, if relevant, or in the acknowledgements, along with the individuals’ institutional affiliations, if relevant (15,16).

It may be concluded that research organizations should have standard code of
authorship of its own and should strictly follow that. The researchers need to be sensitized on this problem through open discussions and advocacy. The editors can help researchers by requiring explicit and signed information describing the contribution of each author. Offering or demanding authorship without contribution should be prohibited in every research and academic institution. The head of the organization may play a vital role in implementing this rule. A grievance redress committee may be formed to minimize authorship conflicts. In every growing society, it is always better to develop appropriate policies well ahead of any problem gets crucial shape. Well-defined policies usually help to avoid conflicts.

1.	Wagena EJ. The scandal of unfair behaviour of senior faculty. J Med Ethics 2005;31:308.

2.	Bhopal R, et al. The vexed question of authorship: views of researchers in a British medical faculty.
Br Med J 1997;314(7086):1009-12.

3.	van Rooyen S, Godlee F, Evans S, Smith R, Black N. Effect of Blinding and Unmasking on the
Quality of Peer Review: A Randomized Trial. JAMA 1988;280:234-7.

4.	Pignatelli B, Maisonneuve H, Chapuis F. Authorship ignorance: views of researchers in French
clinical settings. J Med Ethics 2005;31:578-81.

5.	Kakkar N. Authorship trends in the Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology: going the global
way? (correspondence). J Clin Pathol 2004;57:670.

6.	Yank V and Rennie D. Disclosure of researcher contributions: a study of original research articles in
The Lancet. Ann Intern Med 1999;130(8):661-70.

7.	Wenhui L, Shouchu Q, Yue Q. Authorship of published medical papers in three Chinese medical
journals. Fourth International Congress on Peer Review in Biomedical Publication (Abstract book).
Chicago: JAMA, 2001:29-30.

8.	International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts
submitted to biomedical journals: writing and editing for biomedical publication (Updated October
2005). (accessed on 14 December 2005)

9.	RennieD, Yank V, Emmanuel L. When suthorship fails: a proposal to make contributors accountable. JAMA. 1997;278:579-585.

10.	Report to the Council of Biology Editors from the Task Force on Authorship. Who’s the author? Problems with biomedical authorship and some possible solutions. Science Editor. 2000;23:111-119. 

11.	Kassirer JP. Authorship criteria.Science. 1995;268:785-786.

12.	Committee on Publication Ethics (CPE). What to do if you suspect ghost, guest of gift authorship (flowchart). Available at: (Accessed January 11, 2012).

13.	Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). How to spot authorship problems (flowchart). Available at: (Accessed Mach 09, 2012).

14.	Flanagin A, Rennie D. Acknowledging ghosts. JAMA.1995;273(1):73.

15.	American Medical Association Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th edition. Oxford University Press; 2007:128-140.

16.	LaineC, Mulrow CD. Exocising ghosts and unwelcome guest. Ann Intern Med. 2005; 143:611-612.

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