plemented letters and telephones in facilitating rapid exchange of results. Scientific meetings routinely include poster sessions and press conferences as well as formal presentations. Although research publications continue to document research findings, the appearance of electronic publications and other information technologies heralds change. In addition, incidents of plagiarism, the increasing number of authors per article in selected fields, and the methods by which publications are assessed in determining appointments and promotions have all increased concerns about the traditions and practices that have guided communication and publication.

Journal publication, traditionally an important means of sharing information and perspectives among scientists, is also a principal means of establishing a record of achievement in science. Evaluation of the accomplishments of individual scientists often involves not only the numbers of articles that have resulted from a selected research effort, but also the particular journals in which the articles have appeared. Journal submission dates are often important in establishing priority and intellectual property claims.


Authorship of original research reports is an important indicator of accomplishment, priority, and prestige within the scientific community. Questions of authorship in science are intimately connected with issues of credit and responsibility. Authorship practices are guided by disciplinary traditions, customary practices within research groups, and professional and journal standards and policies.16 There is general acceptance of the principle that each named author has made a significant intellectual contribution to the paper, even though there remains substantial disagreement over the types of contributions that are judged to be significant.

A general rule is that an author must have participated sufficiently in the work to take responsibility for its content and vouch for its validity. Some journals have adopted more specific guidelines, suggesting that credit for authorship be contingent on substantial participation in one or more of the following categories: (1) conception and design of the experiment, (2) execution of the experiment and collection and storage of the supporting data, (3) analysis and interpretation of the primary data, and (4) preparation and revision of the manuscript. The extent of participation in these four activities required for authorship varies across journals, disciplines, and research groups. 17

“Honorary,” “gift,” or other forms of noncontributing authorship

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