Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology
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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 283-284  

Whose manuscript is it anyway? The 'Write' position and number of authors….

Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor, Department of Periodontology, AECS Maaruti Dental College and Research Centre, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication25-Jul-2013

Correspondence Address:
Ashish Sham Nichani
Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor, Department of Periodontology, AECS Maaruti Dental College and Research Centre, Bangalore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-124X.115630

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How to cite this article:
Nichani AS. Whose manuscript is it anyway? The 'Write' position and number of authors…. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2013;17:283-4

How to cite this URL:
Nichani AS. Whose manuscript is it anyway? The 'Write' position and number of authors…. J Indian Soc Periodontol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 May 22];17:283-4. Available from:

Publishing a scientific paper today is recognized by faculty members as being vital not only to their careers, but also to the reputation of their college within the university and the discipline. Infact, very frequently, faculty members whose promotion at educational institutions depends on the number of publications they produce, sometimes take advantage of junior colleagues or post-graduate students by having them perform the bulk of work on a project, yet giving them little or no credit when the work is published.

The question of what constitutes the most ethical, transparent, and fair way to credit authors for their contributions to an original published work has been a matter of great debate. [1],[2],[3] In general, it is assumed that the first and last (i.e., senior) author positions in a publication's byline hold special weight. [4] However, the Vancouver Group of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, in its Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, asserts, "Authorship credit should be based only on substantial contributions to: (a) conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data; and to (b) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and on (c) final approval of the version to be published. Conditions (a), (b), and (c) must all be met."[1]

To minimize the potential for disputes, authorship issues should be addressed as early as possible in the research process (perhaps in written memos of understanding) and revisited frequently as work progresses, [5] which includes (1) what constitutes authorship, (2) who should be an author, (3) the rights and responsibilities of co-authorship, including who will be the first author, (4) when acknowledgment is appropriate, (5) how authorship will be affected if contributions to the project change over time, including the elimination of co-authors who cannot or will not honor their commitment to the project, and, if necessary, (6) how traditions of a particular discipline will influence authorship of an interdisciplinary paper. [6],[7],[8],[9]

Let me recapitulate by saying, it is common practice to limit the number of authors to 4 or 6 unless special justification for a larger number is provided at the time of submission. The person who writes the manuscript generally is deemed the first author. Other authors are included if they make a key contribution to the project-that is, one critical to its completion. Many times the order is modified so that the name of the principal investigator comes first, regardless of who authored the manuscript. In Europe, the guide's name traditionally is placed first, whereas in North America, the opposite is true: the guide is listed last. Currently, the most prevalent sequence is as follows: The main investigator first, the guide second or last, and the other investigators in the order of their relative contributions.

In conclusion, not only are we seeing an increase in the number of authors for each publication but the practice of explicitly giving authors equal credit is increasingly common in original research publications. It may be desirable for us to follow certain guidelines regarding this practice.

   References Top

1.International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication Updated October 2008; Available from: [Last accessed on 2013 April 28].  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Rennie D, Yank V, Emanuel L. When authorship fails. A proposal to make contributors accountable. JAMA 1997;278:579-85.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Smith R. Authorship: Time for a paradigm shift? BMJ 1997;314:992.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Steneck NH. ORI Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research. Available from: Revised August 2007. [Last accessed on 2013 April 28].  Back to cited text no. 4
5.King CR, McGuire DB, Lengman A J, Carroll-Johnson RM. Peer review, authorship, ethics, and conflict of interest. Image J Nurs Sch 1997;29:163-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Fye WB. Medical authorship: Traditions, trends, and tribulations. Ann Intern Med 1990;113:317-25.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Brooten DA. Who′s on first? Nurs Res 1986;35:259.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Huth EJ. Irresponsible authorship and wasteful publication. Ann Int Med 1986;104:257-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Waltz CF, Nelson B, Chambers SB. Assigning publication credits. Nurs Outlook 1985;33:233-8.  Back to cited text no. 9

   Authors Top

Ashish Sham Nichani

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