Medical and scientific research is increasingly being done by large groups of collaborators on complex projects often from many different institution and countries. Under such circumstances what constitutes “authorship” is increasingly hard to agree on and now presents specific problems. I will discuss three issues, all of which address the difficulties inherent in the term “authorship”.
First, do the current definitions of “authorship” currently sufficiently capture what contributions those who are involved in in research make to specific projects; are these definitions sufficient to give appropriate academic credit; do these definitions ensure that authors take appropriate responsibility for the papers on which they are listed as authors. Second, what is the effect of current authorship guidelines on ethical issues such as ghost and guest authorship? Third, what technical possibilities are there for attributing “authorship” more precisely?