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Since the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) issued a set of criteria for authorship in 1985, the subject has received considerable attention from editors of biomedical journals. In short, the criteria of the ICMJE were developed to discourage the inflationary increase in the number of authors listed on papers and to end the practice of “gift” authorship. In response to the ongoing debate about what constitutes authorship, the ICMJE modified its statement on authorship at its May 2000 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. These guidelines serve as the basis for the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals recommendations for authorship. At the November 2000 meeting of the Journal of Athletic Training Editors, we decided to adopt the following authorship guidelines of the Uniform Requirements:
Authorship credit should be based only on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or 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. Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must all be met. Acquisition of funding, the collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, by themselves, do not justify authorship.
The growing trend among biomedical journals is to require authors to provide a description of what each has contributed. The goals of this disclosure are to “discourage abuses of authorship, permit credit for all substantial contributions, and inform editors and readers of who stands behind each key portion of the work and who is prepared to vouch for the work as a whole” (Leash E. Is it time for a new approach to authorship? J Dent Res. 1997;76:724–727).
To this end, we have also decided to publish authors' contributions on the title page of each paper published in JAT. Others who have contributed to the work but who do not meet the guidelines for authorship should be thanked in the Acknowledgments section. The authorship form, which can be found at http://www.journalofathletictraining.org/authorship.htm, should be completed and submitted with each new manuscript. The contribution categories are conception and design; acquisition of data; analysis and interpretation of data; drafting of the article; critical revision of the article for important intellectual content; final approval of the article; provision of study materials or patients; statistical expertise; obtaining of funding; administrative, technical, or logistic support; and collection and assembly of data.
Confusion also exists over the order in which authors are listed on papers. Some professional societies' journals tend to list the person contributing primarily to the study first and the “senior” author (if not the primary contributor) last. We wish to reaffirm our adherence to the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, which state, “The order of authorship on the byline should be a joint decision of the coauthors. Authors should be prepared to explain the order in which authors are listed.” We also encourage authors submitting papers to JAT to follow the American Medical Association Manual of Style recommendation, which states that all authors should be listed in order of actual contribution made to the work (Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins; 1998:93).
These and other changes related to publication policies can be found in the revised Authors' Guide in this issue. For additional information related to authorship and other aspects of preparation and submission of papers to scholarly journals, please visit the Uniform Requirements Web site (http://www.icmje.org/index.html) or consult the American Medical Association Manual of Style.