In recent years, problems related to scientific fraud have occupied the attention of scientists and publishers and have been discussed in many issues of The Scientist. Not so often discussed is the question: What constitutes authorship of a scientific paper?
This has become an issue because, to the regret of many, academic and other advancements often depend on the bulk of a scientist’s publications. Search and appointment committees all over the world base their estimation of candidates’ capacities in some cases on the weight and in good cases on the quality of their publications. It follows, therefore, that a scientist whose name appears as an author of an article to which he did not contribute significantly attempts to cheat those who try to evaluate his capabilities.
But try to define what constitutes a significant contribution. While this is often not easily determined, I believe the following rule...