Sunday, August 13, 2006

Increasing number of authors per article

The National Library of Medicine provides a brief analysis of trends in the number of individual and collective authors for each PubMed/Medline citation over the last 50+ years. Not surprisingly, considering the nature of some of the big trials, the process of large genetic analysis studies, and other changes in biomedical publishing, the number of authors per Medline record has been steadily increasing over time since 1950.

The highest author count per article in the 2000-2004 period? 743 authors. The average number of authors for that time period was just over 4.

How do researchers determine who has contributed "enough" to a manuscript to be listed as an official author of the work? The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors recommends standards for deciding who should be an author of a given article. Medical journals have operationalized these guidelines in a number of ways (e.g. see BMJ's instructions for determining authorship and providing this information with each submission of original research and the BMJ editorials "Authorship: time for a paradigm shift?" and "Authorship is dying; long live contributorship").

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MeSH terms: Authorship; Periodicals/standards; Periodicals/ethics

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