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Guidelines for Determining Co-Authorship

Determining whether a BBCB consultant/collaborator should be a co-author can be an important but difficult issue and should be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, authorship should be determined on the basis of the level of participation and should not be influenced by whether the consultant was paid or not. Below are some recommended guidelines that may be helpful in determining co-authorship.

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (http://www.icmje.org external link), all persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. Authorship credit should be based only on:

1.     a) substantial contributions to conception and design or
        b) acquisition of data or
        c) analysis and interpretation of the data

2.    a) drafting of the article or
       b) revising it critically for important intellectual detail

3.    a) final approval of the version to be published.

Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must all be met.”

Recommendation: In keeping with the above guidelines, If a participating BBCB collaborator or consultant performs some activity in each of categories 1and 2 above and then approves the final version of the manuscript prior to submission to a journal, he or she should be given co-authorship. The most common situation is that the bioinformatician/biostatistician/statistician or a mathematician (a typical BBCB member) helps with the design of the study (including determining the appropriate sample size), analyzes the data once they have been collected, and explains the results to the principal investigator(s). The member then writes the data analysis part of the Methods section of the manuscript (or edits a version written by one of the other investigators) and may write and/or edit some or all of the Results section. In addition, the BBCB member usually makes significant contributions to the tables and figures in the manuscript. If the member then reads the final version of the manuscript prior to submission (which is always recommended) and offers his or her comments, these activities would qualify the BBCB member as a co-author under the above guidelines. Moreover, some journals require that "Any part of an article essential to its main conclusions must be the responsibility of at least one author..." (Academic Medicine Complete 2006 Instructions for Authors http://www.academicmedicine.org ). If the BBCB member is not listed as a co-author, then one or more of the authors would have to take responsibility for the computational analysis and stand by the validity of the analysis. In most cases, clinician or scientific researchers in the health/biological sciences probably would not be experienced enough to do this.

[Directly adopted from http://www.mcg.edu/research/biostat/Documents/Co-Authorship.pdf]

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