Lec 14 Authorship Issues


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Lec 14 Authorship Issues

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