Poll: views on authorship and author contribution statements (UPDATED)

Science is now more collaborative than it used to be, increasing the average number of authors per paper. Authorship standards also are changing (see also here and here). All of which means that authorship, and author order, are increasingly difficult-to-interpret summaries of scientists’ contributions to a paper.

Hence the increasing prevalence of author contribution statements: formal statements of who did what. Many journals, such as Nature, now require author contribution statements. I like author contribution statements and routinely include them in all my papers. But as with any trend, not everyone likes the trend towards author contribution statements. Further, it’s not clear that anyone pays much attention to author contribution statements. Maybe author contribution statements are like some rare deep sea fish–most people are glad that they exist, even though they have no practical effect on anything?

So here’s a short poll, asking you a few questions about authorship and author contribution statements. Who should get to be an author, and are author contribution statements useful? I’ll share the results in a future post. Looking forward to your responses!

p.s. Thanks to Meg for the inspiration to do a poll on this, though I can only hope my poll will live up to the high standard hers set.

UPDATE: The poll is now closed.


 

5 thoughts on “Poll: views on authorship and author contribution statements (UPDATED)

  1. It would be useful to distinguish what is sufficient to be included as an author from what should justify an invitation to be an author. Accepting to be an author is, or should be (?), also accepting an obligation to be involved in the framing, interpretation, writing and revisions etc. (and other aspects within reason and as called upon).

  2. Additional legitimate critiques:
    * Author contribution statements take time to write and don’t “count” for anything. Why bother?
    * Author contribution statements aren’t standardized and so there’s no way to run any sort of metrics across papers.

    • Re: the time they take to write, that’s trivial in my experience. Like, literally 5 minutes work *tops* to write a draft, circulate for feedback/corrections, and then edit. I’m guessing your experience has been quite different?

      • Oh, I don’t mean I have theses complaints. I write author contribution statements. But I think they’re legitimate. Yes it’s not a *lot* of extra time, but there’s also no direct payoff. Aren’t we all being asked to do more and more things — small and otherwise — to promote a particular culture of science? Perhaps with little or no direct benefit to science itself? I appreciate this sentiment, even if I don’t hold it myself. I’ve been nickeled and dimed in other ways for other things.

      • “Aren’t we all being asked to do more and more things — small and otherwise — to promote a particular culture of science? Perhaps with little or no direct benefit to science itself?”

        Good question–looking forward to seeing your post on it! 🙂

        Especially if you take the angle that there’s little benefit to science as a whole in some cases. That would set the fox among the chickens…

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