Currently, there have been a lot of research proposals submitted for publication in medical journals. The incidence of authorship dispute and abuse is also rising in Thailand and worldwide(1,2). The questions of authorship dispute include: who should be named as the authors?, who should be the first author?, whether or not unnamed authors despite contributing to the research should be listed, and why do authors who do not contribute to the research but have been named in the published articles. The reasons for authorship dispute probably stem from the benefit of authorship:
· Contribution to the progress of science
· A sense of achievement
· Evidence of individual’s intellectual efforts
· Contribution to individual professional reputation
· Creation of currency for academic appointments and research funds
There is an example of authorship dispute in foreign countries(3). The second named author took legal action, alleging that the first author had substituted her name for his as first author. Eventually, the second author won because of original verbal agreement stating that second author should be first author.
There are international reports about the prevalence of honorary and ghost authorship in medical journals(4,5). The honorary authorships are defined as an author who does not meet authorship criteria, who have not participated in drafting or revising the review or have not approved it for submission. The ghost authorships are defined as unnamed individual who participated in writing the article or have made substantial contributions that merited authorship. The prevalence of honorary and ghost authorship in medical journals is 26-39% and 9-10% of review articles, respectively(4,5).
Regarding decreasing authorship dispute, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJS) or known as Vancouver Group has produced the “Uniform Requirement for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals”(6). In the authorship section, all of the three conditions must be met for authorship. These include (1) the author’s contribution to conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data; (2) author must draft the article or revise it critically for important intellectual contents; (3) in addition to the author’s conception and design, author must contribute on final approval of the version to be published. Participation solely in the acquisition of funding or the collection of data does not justify authorship. Indeed, listing of the nature of work contributed by each person who appears on the byline is required for publication in the respectable journals such as Lancet, New England Journal(7). This new custom still allows an act of giving credits in the form of an acknowledgement to head of department, financial supporters and others who provided indirect help in the performance of the study(1,6). These practices are a part of good and ethical researcher(8-11).
There is a suggestion from Verhagen et al published in Nature 2003(12) about the Quantitative Uniform Authorship Declaration (QUAD) system for fair sharing to all authors. They suggest a quantitative method for evaluating authorship based on four categories of contribution: conception and design, data collection, data analysis and conclusions, and manuscript preparation. Each author could claim their percentage share of the total credit in each of the four categories. Authors are usually listed in descending order of total contribution across all four categories.
In order to decrease the authorship dispute, we suggest that agreement of the authorship must be made before performing the research. An agreement about the percent share and the order of authors should also be made before performing the research too.
Keyword : Authorship, Dispute, Publication