Authorship in a small medical journal: A study of contributorship statements by corresponding authors

Science and Engineering Ethics 10 (3):493-502 (2004)
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Abstract

The authorship criteria of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) are widely accepted in biomedical journals, but many studies in large and prestigious journals show that a considerable proportion of authors do not fulfill these criteria. We investigated authorship contributions in a small medical journal outside the scientific mainstream, to see if poor adherence to authorship criteria is common in biomedical journals. We analyzed statements on research contribution, as checked by the corresponding author, for individual authors of 114 research articles, representing 475 authors, submitted to the Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ) from 1999 to 2000. Only 40% of authors fulfilled the ICMJE authorship criteria. The authors listed first on the by-line were more likely to fulfill the authorship criteria than all other authors on the by-line. The percentage of authors fulfilling the ICMJE criteria of authorship decreased with the increase in the number of authors listed on the by-line. These results indicate that poor adherence to ICMJE authorship criteria is poor across biomedical journals, regardless of the size of the scientific community. Authorship and contributorship in biomedical journals, as well as editorial ethical responsibilities towards authorship criteria need critical redefinition and education of both editors and authors.

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