Best Practices to Guide Decisions of Authorship and Author Order in a Research Manuscript
Over the past 75 years, medical publications have included a growing number of authors. As a result, research teams face challenges in deciding who qualifies for authorship and in what order the authors should be listed. These challenges can lead to tension among research teams that is related to a large number of authors, a lack of knowledge about authorship guidelines, limited experience in research, power dynamics and work culture, and even unethical practices. To overcome these challenges, research teams may look to medical writers and editors for guidance. As a result, medical writers and editors need to be prepared to share best practices for deciding which authors qualify for authorship and which authors should be listed in the acknowledgments. Medical writers and editors also need to be aware of and advise against unethical authorship practices, including honorary authorship and ghost authorship. Medical writers and editors can also guide research teams in best practices for ordering authors, including understanding the meaning of author positions, determining author contributions, planning authorship from the start, establishing authorship responsibilities, agreeing on how to resolve disputes, keeping track of contributions, and documenting discussions about authorship. With this guidance, research teams can adopt best practices for ethically granting authorship and fairly ordering authors based on their contribution to the work.
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