Recent incidents of scientific misconduct have made researchers and their institutions more aware that credit given on papers is not always credit due. But major research universities and journals in the life sciences have taken few steps to develop policies or guidelines on responsible co-authorship, according to an informal study by The Scientist.

The School of Basic Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University adopted such a policy in August in response to national concern and because administrators felt faculty had not been given sufficient guidance, according to the dean, S. Gaylen Bradley. It includes criteria on how to determine if co-authorship is warranted (see sidebar)

The editor of Annals of Internal Medicine, Edward Huth, last year adapted guidelines approved in 1985 by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Its criteria define authors as scientists who have "conceived and planned the work that led to the paper, or...

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