Confirming authorship on papers

Recently, I was working on a paper where we all made mistakes regarding authorship. We withdraw the paper in question before publication, and we have all been writing new guidelines for our labs in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Our new guidelines require that active authors on a paper ensure that everyone who has touched any of the data or intellectual contributions on the paper read and respond to the email message below. Responses are then stored on the authors’ computers to document who does and does not wish to be an author.

(We will have later blog post on authorship order – those policies are currently being rewritten.)

Progress on the paper does not occur until all are in agreement on authorship AND authorship order:

Dear {name}, potential author on {article/project}

A paper on the above topic is currently in preparation. You are receiving this email because you may have had some contact with some aspect of this project.

According to what is sometimes called the Vancouver Convention, there are four key components to justify authorship on a given poster, proceedings paper, journal article, or project:

1)         Substantial contributions* to the conception or design of the work, or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND 

2)         Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND 

3)         Final approval of the version to be published; AND 

4)         Agreement to 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. 

*we consider the term “substantial contributions” here to be equivalent to “substantive intellectual contributions” as described in the Vancouver Convention protocols as well as to “substantial professional contributions” as described in section 8.12 of the “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct” of the American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/ethics/code.

Details on the Vancouver Convention protocols can be found in this website of the international committee of medical journal editors: https://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html

All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors.  Those who meet some but not all four criteria should be acknowledged.

In view of the above considerations, we are asking you as an individual for a statement of your contributions relative to the four points above.

Referring to the above points, please answer the following questions regarding your own contributions:

1)         Do you consider your contributions to satisfy the requirement of “substantial contributions” as described above? If so, please describe your contributions here:

2)         Have you or will you contribute to drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content (yes or no)? If so, please describe:

3)         Have you or will you commit to providing final approval of the version to be published? (Yes or No): 

4)         Do you agree to 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 (Yes or No)?: 

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