Intended for healthcare professionals


Authorship is dying: long live contributorship

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 20 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:696

The BMJ will publish lists of contributors and guarantors to original articles

  1. Richard Smith, Editor
  1. BMJ

In April this year we suggested that the concept of authorship in science was so broken that it should be scrapped and replaced by something different.1 Instead of authors there should be contributors and guarantors. Since then the debate has begun to motor. The originator of the idea of contributors—Drummond Rennie, deputy editor (west) of JAMA—has spelt out the case for change in detail.2 The Lancet has adopted the system.3 Many people have written to us about the subject, and most favour change: today we publish 16 of their letters (p 744).4 We propose that, where the authors want it, we will publish lists of contributors and guarantors with papers describing original research. When authors choose not to do this, however, we will continue to publish lists of authors in the traditional way.

We will need to experiment with …

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