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On the List: Mar 30, 2013

One of the reasons that papers get retracted is because of authorship issues, write Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, who run the Retraction Watch blog, at Lab Times.

"What’s the best way to acknowledge the work of colleagues who might have helped provide intellectual background for a particular study but who did not participate in the collection of the data or the preparation of the manuscript?" they ask. "And what of the lab head, whose ability to bring in money keeps the lights on and the rats fed?"

Marcus and Oransky point out that journals and other organizations provide guidelines to help researchers determine who should and who should not be included on the author list. Elsevier, they note, says that authors must "have made a significant contribution to the conception, design, execution, or interpretation of the reported study."

But getting at that question of the lab head, Marcus and Oransky add that the Committee on Publication Ethics says that such senior figures, if they did not make that substantial contribution to the work, should not be listed as authors.