Lec 14 Authorship Issues
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Lec 14 Authorship Issues






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Lec 14 Authorship Issues Lec 14 Authorship Issues Presentation Transcript

  • Authorship issues. Phil 133 – Ethics in Science San José State University
  • Lecture overview:
    • Why does the author line matter? (communication/credit)
    • How to read an author line
    • Problematic situations
    • Authorship standards (ICMJE definition, explicit authorship)
    • Authors vs. peer reviewers
  • Why does the author line matter?
    • Communication – who did the research, made this contribution to the shared body of knowledge? Authors need to be available in the ongoing scientific conversation about the work.
    • Credit – who gets to count this contribution in the scientific scorekeeping? Who shoulders blame if results don’t hold up?
  • How do you read the author line?
    • Firsty McAuthorson, Nexty Segundo, T.H. Author III, and Lasty Corresponding*
    • Corresponding author (*) responsible for fielding questions (and requests for reprints).
    • Is the first author the one who deserves the most credit?
  • How do you read the author line?
    • Depends on scientific field!
    • In some fields, the convention is to list authors alphabetically:
    • T.H. Author III, Lasty Corresponding*, Firsty McAuthorson, and Nexty Segundo
    • no matter who made the biggest contribution. (All share responsibility for the whole paper.)
  • How do you read the author line?
    • Sometimes PI always takes first author slot:
    • Lasty Corresponding*, Firsty McAuthorson, Nexty Segundo, and T.H. Author III
    • because PI is the brains of the operation (with grad students, postdocs, technicians working under PI’s direction and supervision).
  • How do you read the author line?
    • Often the PI takes the last author slot, with first author slot for person who executed research and analysis:
    • Firsty McAuthorson, Nexty Segundo, T.H. Author III, and Lasty Corresponding*
    • Corresponding author because PI usually has most stable position and address.
    • (Still assumed to be the brains of the operation?)
  • How do you read the author line?
    • Assigning credit (and proportional credit) when there are many authors is pretty hard.
    • Some situations where who’s listed as an author doesn’t correspond to what readers expect that an author has contributed.
  • Problematic situations:
    • Ghost writers (didn’t contribute to research, yet write the paper – and aren’t identified as writing the paper) Articles in medical journals written by (unnamed) pharma employees
    • “ Guest authors” (people who didn’t actually contribute to the research or writing) Gerald Schatten in Korean stem cell fraud
    • Surprise! You’re an author! http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2006/05/the_author_unaware.php
  • Problematic situations:
    • What makes them a problem is that they mislead readers about who is accountable for what’s in the paper, and who deserves credit for the scientific contribution. Misleading is awfully close to lying.
  • ICMJE authorship standards:
    • Substantial contribution to conception and design of the research, OR acquisition of data, OR analysis and interpretation of data; AND
    • Drafting the article OR revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
    • Final approval of the version to be published.
  • ICMJE authorship standards:
    • Only people who meet all three conditions count as authors.
    • Every person who meets all three conditions counts as an author.
  • ICMJE authorship standards:
    • “ Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.”
    • Does this mean PIs shouldn’t be listed as authors so much of the time?
  • ICMJE authorship standards:
    • “ Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.”
    • Can the reader tell which authors take responsibility for which portions of the content?
  • Explicit authorship:
    • Authors required to identify their contributions to the work described in the manuscript.
    • Details of these contributions included in the published paper.
    • The standard in some biomedical journals, ecology journals.
  • Explicit authorship:
    • Makes it less important to work out author rankings (2 nd vs. 3 rd vs. 4 th )
    • Better for follow-up questions, especially in interdisciplinary research
    • Still possible to misrepresent contributions (although requires a conscious lie).
  • Peer review
    • Ideally , critical engagement with other scientists reviewing your manuscript helps you exercise skepticism, provide good evidence for your claims, be more objective.
  • Peer review
    • In practice , scientists express concerns about operation of peer review:
    • Reviewers too conservative (wedded to old theories and results)
    • Reviewers not competent to evaluate (outside the area of their expertise)
  • Peer review
    • Reviewers more interested in protecting their scientific turf (want their lab to get to the discovery first)
    • Reject, stall manuscripts from competitors
    • Steal important information from manuscripts of competitors
  • Peer review
    • Why should just three scientists get to decide whether my results are worthy of scientific notice?
    • Wouldn’t it be better to announce them and let the whole scientific community make the decision?
  • Peer review
    • Quality control before publication?
    • After publication?
    • Both?
    • (Who else counts on peer review as a quality control screen?)