The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors is an
influential group that, as expected, takes publication and authorship very
seriously. They have issued the most
generally accepted definition of the criteria for authorship of scientific
publications. They list these criteria very clearly and unambiguously on their website.
These criteria are:
recommends that authorship be based on the following 4 criteria:
contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition,
analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AN
approval of the version to be published; AND
be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related
to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. “
They go on to say “All those designated as authors
should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four
criteria should be identified as authors.” There does not seem to leave much
doubt as to their meaning. The practise of guest authorship, including authors
with non-substantive contributions by virtue of their position was once common
but is now considered inappropriate. However, no simple set of guidelines can
address all possible circumstances. Which raises the point I am addressing in
this blog: What about pets?
An important paper
on atomic behaviour published in Physical Reviews by Jack Hetherington and
F.D.C. Willard is the object of this question.