When a journal (such as one of the Nature family) asks for information about authors' contributions, what is the most effective way to answer this, to ensure that the co-authorship is assigned as intended, and to ensure that reality is represented: that the work is a product of the intellectual environment of the whole team; and that all members have contributed in various degrees to the analytical methods used, to the research concept, and to the experiment design. Is what I've just written there sufficient, or is there a more judicious phrasing that is accepted by heavyweight journal publishers such as the Nature Group?
The primary context is publications from a team that works on the principle that all members of the team are to be named authors on all papers coming out of the team.
I'm very specifically looking for answers from editors who handle such papers; or from members of teams with similar rules. Answers from others are of course possible, but I'd value direct personal experience.
Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.
When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. These individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship/contributorship defined above, and editors will ask these individuals to complete journal-specific author and conflict-of-interest disclosure forms. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments. The NLM indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript; it also lists the names of collaborators if they are listed in Acknowledgments.
Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.
All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.
Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
1. My field is not medicine: I've used the Vancouver Group's guidelines, as I haven't yet found any in my field.
2. note that this is emphatically not about the ethics, pros and cons of such a rule. If you want to discuss that, please do so in chat. I may join you there as time allows
- Author contributions audit, by Maxine Clarke on the Nature Nautilus authors' blog, lists example contributors' satements
- Drummond Rennie discusses "Authorship Credits"
- Academia and Clinic, by Yank & Rennie: Disclosure of Researcher Contributions: A Study of Original Research Articles in The Lancet
- and lots more at the US Council of Science Editors