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Ideas and Opinions |

"Hanging from the Masthead": Reflections on Authorship

Lt. Col. KENNETH D. BURMAN
[+] Article and Author Information

The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Lt. Col. Kenneth Burman, MC USA; Ward 47, Clinical Investigation, Kyle Metabolic Unit, Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Washington, DC 20012.


MC, USA: Washington, D.C.; and Bethesda, Maryland


Ann Intern Med. 1982;97(4):602-605. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-97-4-602
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Authorship of a scientific article should imply expertise on its content and thorough knowledge of the investigation reported. Because the number of authors per article has dramatically increased, I question whether these criteria for authorship are applied. Another explanation for this increase is that authors add names to the byline without reference to any set of criteria, resulting in the designation of coauthorship when not warranted. The medical community needs to redefine the proper procedure and criteria for deciding on authorship and to strictly abide by these procedures. Specific recommendations center around the protocol as the initial instrument of communication. Who should be designated as author, and the order of names, should be negotiated before and during the study, and written communication with other involved laboratories should result in more appropriate authorship attribution.

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