Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
Print this page Email this page Users Online: 516

  Table of Contents  
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 483-486  

Authorship for interdisciplinary research: Who should be the first author?


Research Directorate, Dr D Y Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission07-Nov-2020
Date of Decision21-Nov-2020
Date of Acceptance24-Nov-2020
Date of Web Publication25-Apr-2022

Correspondence Address:
Pradnya Kakodkar
Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra
India
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_613_20

Rights and Permissions
  Abstract 


Background: Authorship disputes are not rare when it is interdisciplinary research involving multiple researchers from different disciplines. Aim: The aim of this artilce is to recommend authorship guidelines for interdisciplinary research through a review of literature. Materials and Methods: Literature was searched using the search terms “Interdisciplinary research” and “authorship” in Medline since 2000–2020 and using Google. The literature was read and compiled. Based on the available literature suggestions and the present-day journal guidelines, recommendations are proposed. Results: Twelve unique and relevant articles were selected. They were read thoroughly, and four suggestions for determining authorship in interdisciplinary research are hereby proposed: (1) according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors; (2) group authorship; (3) contributor role taxonomy with 1000-point system; and (4) co-first authorship. Conclusion: Interdisciplinary team to harmoniously prepare the author list using the proposed suggestions and sort it at the initial planning stages before undertaking the work to avoid displeasure at the end.

Keywords: Co-authorship, collaboration, first author, interdisciplinary research, publications


How to cite this article:
Kakodkar P, Bhonde R. Authorship for interdisciplinary research: Who should be the first author?. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2022;15:483-6

How to cite this URL:
Kakodkar P, Bhonde R. Authorship for interdisciplinary research: Who should be the first author?. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 4];15:483-6. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/text.asp?2022/15/4/483/343840




  Introduction Top


Dr X and Dr Y both wanted to be listed as the first author of a study. Dr X was a medical practitioner whose case was treated upon by Dr Y, who was an Ayurved specialist. They both had put in a similar amount of effort in different aspects of the case. Each one felt that whatever they did was more important than what the other person did. The case was treated with an interdisciplinary treatment modality. We stood clueless at this authorship disagreement.

This dispute genuinely got us thinking for a need to have a yardstick of fair means to decide: who should be the first author? Who should be in the author byline? and What should be the order of the author list?

Single-author research papers are showing a declining trend, particularly in life sciences,[1] indirectly indicating that the quantum of research is growing and a sizeable collaborative team is actually planning and executing the research. In the Internet age, the collaboration with multiple authors from multiple regions becomes very easy. Growth in multi-authorship publications has accelerated and this trend has set in since the 1970s.[2]

In disciplines where multiple authors work together, the listing of authors can be much more complicated. This can be compounded in interdisciplinary research where contributors can come from fields where the practices are different.[3] Today, different disciplinary background scholars are coming together to solve the global scientific challenges.[4] Interdisciplinary research integrates the analytical strengths of two or more often disparate scientific disciplines to solve a given biological problem.[5] Alliance is often used to undertake interdisciplinary research.[6] Owing to the significant increase in the interdisciplinary research, multi-author studies, and multiple center trials, the authorship issue in publications are escalating.[7]

The position of the “first author” in the authorship byline is the most preferred because the identity of the study and the citation is indicated by the first author's name.[7] Moreover, authorship is not just a list of names, it is a system to indicate that this group has undertaken the responsibility of the said research. Every author in the byline is as important as the first and without the co-authors contribution, the interdisciplinary research cannot be completed successfully.

The aim of this paper is to recommend authorship guidelines for interdisciplinary research through a review of literature.


  Materials and Methods Top


Literature was searched using the search terms “Interdisciplinary research and authorship” in Medline since 2000–2020 and in Google. The literature was read and compiled. Based on the available literature suggestions and the present-day journal guidelines, recommendations were proposed.


  Results Top


Twelve unique and relevant articles were selected. They were read thoroughly and four suggestions for determining authorship in interdisciplinary research are proposed: (1) according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE); (2) group authorship; (3) contributor role taxonomy (CRediT) with 1000-point system; and (4) co-first authorship.

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors

A team member can be considered as an author if the person fulfills the four criteria according to the ICMJE[8] recommendations [Table 1]. Today, every journal mentions the use of ICMJE criteria for authorship eligibility in the “Instructions to Authors.”
Table 1: International committee of medical journal editors recommendations[8] for designating as an author

Click here to view


Group authorship

When a large group with multiple authors conduct a research, the authorship can be designated by a group name, with or without the names of individuals.[8] All the members listed in the group should fulfill the four criteria of ICMJE[8] [Table 1]. The names of the individuals in the group are listed in an alphabetical order. There is no order to the group list, but multiple authors are accommodated in the author byline. Further, the contributorship form is filled, wherein the contribution of each person is listed which is included at the end of the manuscript, example[9] is depicted in [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Group authorship[9]

Click here to view


Contributor role taxonomy with 1000-point system

This method can be used to decide the order of the authorship using the role of each contributor determined by the CRediT[10] [Table 2]. Using the CRediT, generate a 1000 point system. Roles like Conceptualization, formal analysis, investigation, methodology, and writing the draft to be scored at 110 each, and the remaining 9 roles to be scored at 50 points each. The sum total will be 550 + 450 = 1000 points. The total score obtained by the authors will determine the ranks. The author with the highest score becomes the first author, and subsequently, the further ranks are decided on the scores obtained by each author. The sequence of author byline is as follows: first author, middle authors (contributing authors), and last author (supervising senior).[11] The author who takes the primary responsibility for communication and answering to the queries raised by the journal or reviewers during the manuscript submission, peer review, and publication process is the corresponding author.[8],[11]
Table 2: Contributor role taxonomy[10]*

Click here to view


Co-first authorship

This can be defined as two authors sharing the first position in the author byline, who have worked together and contributed equally.[12] In the published manuscript, it can be seen as first and second author name in bold, indicating that both are sharing the first author position or asterisk on the name of the first and second author with a notation of shared first authorship. The author order can be presented alphabetically, in order of seniority or by drawing the straws. The authors will have to denote in the title page for the special request of sharing the first authorship.


  Discussion Top


Deciding on the authorship in interdisciplinary research is the joint predetermined decision of the team.[7] At the outset, the research team should ascertain the role and responsibility of the participating investigators in the interdisciplinary project.[3],[7],[10],[11],[13] Sharma and Verma reviewed the authorship guidelines since 1997 and reported that the ICMJE is the most accepted guideline for the majority of journals.[11] However, these guidelines specify who can be the author but not the order of authorship.

Group authorship proposed here is drawn from the recommendation of IJCME[8] and “Instruction to authors” of the British Medical Journal.[9] In a large multi-author group, the advantage of publishing with a group name is that the contributorship list at the end of the manuscripts describes “who did what.” Thus, this highlighting of the role of each contributing author in the respective research gives equal credit to all the authors. “No one is first and no one is last.”[11] Contributorship gives credit to the authors irrespective of which position they are placed. This will support the authorship criteria which intend to decrease unprincipled practices like coercive authors, honorary authorship, guest authorship, gift authorship, and ghost authorship.[14]

To eliminate ambiguity in contribution of the authors and to have transparency of “who did what” Holcombe[10] proposed to use the CRediT available at, http://www.casrai.org/credit. html. Dance[13] in her report proposed the 1000-point system with CRediT to be marked for only four parameters, giving 250 points each (conceptualization, writing, designing, and running the experiment and analyzing the data) in deciding the authorship order. However, here we have considered the CRediT system to cover all the 14 parameters score to generate the 1000-point system. This CRediT with 1000-point system provides the authorship scale, which is a useful tool for determining the assignment and order of authorship in multi-authored publications.[15]

No doubt there is credit assigned to the authorship order, there is a growing trend of co-first authorship that is seen in recent times. Shared first authorship has its own unique problems with the librarians in indexing the article and also with the author metric system.[12]


  Conclusion Top


The suggestions proposed in this paper will facilitate the interdisciplinary team to harmoniously prepare the author list for their research. In biology, variation is a rule. Each individual case is different from the other. Hence, it is difficult to draw a common denominator for authorship issues in interdisciplinary research. Authorship issues therefore need to be sorted at the initial planning stages before undertaking the work to avoid displeasure at the end. We are confident that the points discussed in this manuscript will give a definite direction to authorship chaos created otherwise.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Allen L, Scott J, Brand A, Hlava M, Altman M. Publishing: Credit where credit is due. Nature 2014;508:312-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Brand A, Allen L, Altman M, Hlava M, Scott J. Beyond authorship: Attribution, contribution, collaboration, and credit. Learn Publ 2015;28:151-55.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Smith E, Master Z. Best practice to order authors in multi/interdisciplinary health sciences research publications. Account Res 2017;24:243-67.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Tobi H, Kampen JK. Research design: The methodology for interdisciplinary research framework. Qual Quant 2018;52:1209-25.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Aboelela SW, Larson E, Bakken S, Carrasquillo O, Formicola A, Glied SA, et al. Defining interdisciplinary research: Conclusions from a critical review of the literature. Health Serv Res 2007;42:329-46.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Bellanca L. Measuring interdisciplinary research: Analysis of co-authorship for research staff at the University of York, Bioscience Horizons: The Int J Stud Res 2009;2:99-112.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Desai C. Authorship issues. Indian J Pharmacol 2012;44:433-34.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
8.
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors. Available from: http://www.icmje.org/icmje-recommendations.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 28].  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
10.
Holcombe AO. Contributorship, Not Authorship: Use CRediT to Indicate Who Did What. Publications 2019;7:48.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Sharma H, Verma S. Authorship in biomedical research: A sweet fruit of inspiration or a bitter fruit of trade. Trop Parasitol 2018;8:62-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
12.
Lapidow A, Scudder P. Shared first authorship. J Med Libr Assoc 2019;107:618-20.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Dance A. Authorship: Who's on first? Nature 2012;489:591-3.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Patience GS, Galli F, Patience PA, Boffito DC. Intellectual contributions meriting authorship: Survey results from the top cited authors across all science categories. PLoS One 2019;14:e0198117.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Ahmed SM, Maurana CA, Engle JA, Uddin DE, Glaus KD. A method for assigning authorship in multiauthored publications. Fam Med 1997;29:42-4.  Back to cited text no. 15
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 1]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 1], [Table 2]



 

Top
   
 
  Search
 
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

 
  In this article
   Abstract
  Introduction
   Materials and Me...
  Results
  Discussion
  Conclusion
   References
   Article Figures
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed588    
    Printed4    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded20    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal