The distinction between authorship and other forms of credit for contribution to a publication has been a persisting controversy that has resulted in numerous guidelines outlining the expected contributions of those claiming authorship. While there have been flagrant, well-publicized deviations from widely accepted standards, they are largely outnumbered by cases that are not publicity-worthy, and therefore remain known to only those directly involved with the inappropriate conduct. We discuss the definition and ethical requirements of authorship, offer a case example of the authorship debate created by a technical tool at our institution, and review parallels that support and dispute the authorship claims of our software developers. Ultimately, we conclude that development of a technical tool that enables data collection does not adequately substitute for contributions to study design and manuscript preparation for authorship purposes. Unless the designers of such a technical tool prospectively participate as a part of the project, they would not have an adequate understanding of the publication's genesis to defend it publicly and cannot be listed as authors. Therefore, it is incumbent upon project members to invite tool developers to participate at the beginning of such projects, and for tool developers to contribute to study design and manuscript preparation when they desire authorship listings.
The contribution disclosure forms used by medical journals to assess and confirm authorship are surveys of self-reported behaviour that follow the cognitive rules of psychometric instruments. We sought to analyze how autobiographical memory, defined as memory for events and issues related to oneself, affected the reliability of contribution forms for the judging of authorship of research articles.
In this paper, we focus on the effects of surname initials on professional outcomes in the academic labor market for economists. We begin our analysis with data on faculty in all top 35 U.S. economics departments. Faculty with earlier surname initials are significantly more likely to receive tenure at top ten economics departments, are significantly more likely to become fellows of the Econometric Society, and, to a lesser extent, are more likely to receive the Clark Medal and the Nobel Prize. These statistically significant differences remain the same even after we control for country of origin, ethnicity, religion or departmental fixed effects. As a test, we replicate our analysis for faculty in the top 35 U.S. psychology departments, for which co-authorships are not normatively ordered alphabetically. We find no relationship between alphabetical placement and tenure status in psychology. We suspect the "alphabetical discrimination" reported in this paper is linked to the norm in the economics profession prescribing alphabetical ordering of credits on coauthored publications. We also investigate the extent to which the effects of alphabetical placement are internalized by potential authors in their choices to work with different numbers of coauthors as well as in their willingness to follow the alphabetical ordering norm.
A number of general medical journals and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) request authors to disclose their contributions. Little is known about the effect of journal policies on authors' disclosure of their contributions.