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Author Instructions and Checklists

Updated Instructions to Authors as well as formatting checklists for each type of manuscript are available below:

Instructions for Authors
Brief Communication Checklist
Case Series Checklist
Clinical Challenge Checklist
Full Manuscript Checklist
Review Article Checklist

Authorship Resources

Harvard Medical School’s "Authorship Guidelines”

Council of Science Editor’s Taskforce on Authorship white paper 

The Authorship Questions:

(from: DISCOVERY, Research at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Special Edition 2007)

Imagine you pay Dr. Demanding from Allknowing University to do some laboratory tests for your research project. When writing your manuscript to publish the results, you realize you don’t know Dr. Demanding’s methods, so you ask him to describe them. He refuses unless he is made a co-author on the paper.

What do you do?

The question of authorship was formally addressed by the Council of Science Editors’ (CSE) Task Force on Authorship. They looked at the personal, social, ethical, and legal problems of biomedical authorship in an effort to determine some possible solutions.

The task force identified what they consider the two major problems of authorship: "misattribution of credit and failure to take responsibility." For the sake of brevity, we will focus on credit here. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has specific guidelines for authorship: a true author, according to ICMJE standards, is "someone who has made substantial intellectual contributions to a published study."

Specifically, ICMJE recommends that all three of these conditions be met before including an author’s name in the byline:

• "substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data

• "drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content

• "final approval of the version to be published."

Furthermore, ICMJE asserts that an author should not be someone who only secured funding, collected data, or supervised a research group. As the CSE task force points out, though, senior researchers often devote much of their time to obtaining funding, and why would they work to get funding if they were not to be included as authors?

The acknowledgements section is the place for the scientific advisors, according to ICMJE, and that is also the place to recognize purely technical writing help, animal care staff, and data collectors.

How do we ensure integrity in authorship reporting?
That is yet to be decided in any level of surety. However, some journals, like JAMA
, now require specific contributions of each author to be described, and these contributions are published with the article. JAMA sought to reduce the occurrence of honorary authorship and ghost writing (failing to identify a qualifying author), among other "deceptive practices."

Still, there are no simple solutions. After all, faculty depend on publications for tenure, and funding sources award money to researchers who have proven they can achieve results and report them, a process most easily measured by authorship. All these factors contribute to the decision of whether to include Dr. Demanding in that byline. And while we have no control over what Dr. Demanding demands of us, we can choose to make ethical decisions when it comes to our own names being in a byline.

1. Task Force on Authorship. Who’s the author? Problems with biomedical authorship, and some possible solutions. Science Editor. 2000;23:111- 118.

2. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication. Philadelphia, PA: ICMJE; 2006.

3. Rennie D, Flanagin A, Yank V. The contributions of authors. JAMA. 2000;284:89-91.





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