Recently, Titus Brown blogged a thought-provoking piece about current authorship practices in (life) sciences:
It sparked an interesting discussion (see the comment section).
With his bioinformatician Michael Crusoe he published a software paper in F1000 Research and included all authors which contributed to the code hosted on GitHub (even authors that only corrected typos):
Note, F1000 Research follows a post-publication peer review model, i.e. the paper hasn't undergone peer review yet.
In life sciences your reputation is basically build upon authorships and the position of the authorship on the paper. The authors more to the front (supposedly) contributed more significantly to the study, except for last authorship which usually is reserved for the PI (aka the person who procured the funds). Of course the impact factor of the journal is also hugely important.
This model has several pitfalls, most importantly what is a significant contribution that permits an authorship (instead of e.g. only a mention in the acknowledgements), and who is to decide this? In many labs the last author takes this role for granted and also decides on the authorship position, although even the ICMJE guidelines state this should be decided by all authors (http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html
). Even though the ICMJE guidelines are getting more detailed, they still leave a lot of leeway.
In my opinion, Michael and Titus are doing the right thing. However, I'm well aware this approach might be more suitable for some fields (like software engineering, big project physics) than others.
My questions now are:
1. Do you agree with the practice he followed?
2. Do you work in a field where a similar approach is already implemented? Or a totally different approach is used and why?
3. What are your experiences with authorships overall?
4. Lastly, can a more fine-grained CRediT system (http://credit.casrai.org/proposed-taxonomy/
) or contributorship badges (http://www.nature.com/news/digital-badges-aim-to-clear-up-politics-of-authorship-1.18443
) help with some of the pitfalls of the current system?