The Meaning of Authorship

Gary Michael Smith
JAMA. 1996;276(17):1385. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540170029020.
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To the Editor.  —As managing editor of Hypertension, I frequently request justification for authorship.1 Often, a corresponding author submits names to appear in the list of authors with an explanation of their substantive contribution that alerts me that it may be more appropriate for some individuals to be included in the acknowledgments. In my correspondence to the lead author, I can only suggest that holding the door open while rats are brought into the laboratory does not constitute authorship. Although this analogy may be an exaggeration, my point is that standardization of authorship criteria is long overdue.I can appreciate the detail of JAMA's authorship statement, which must be signed by all authors.1 For our journal, we request in our 2300+-word guidelines that authors "conform to 'Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals,'''2 and I include the following reminder in my letter acknowledging receipt:Additionally, in an effort to


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