Volume 26, Issue 3 - Observational Studies
Data sharing is encouraged by institutions and journals: Authorship of “shared” papers should be clear
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When researchers share data, the teams analysing them want to publish their results. How should authorship of publications be defined? Who are the authors – the researchers who collected and then shared the data and/or those who analysed the data? Conflicts among researchers are frequent when it comes to listing authors. The issue is important to researchers as they seek advance ment, apply for grants, etc. In the New England Journal of Medicine, Bierer et al propose that the persons who contributed to the generation of data should be named “data authors,” with their names added to the byline. Data authors are responsible for the integrity of the data set but not responsible for the scientific or clinical conclusions. A manuscript could have distinct data authors and authors whose primary contribution has been to perform data analysis of an existing data set. Five situations have been identified to allocate credit for data sharing and tracing the date set; many questions are not yet answered. Authors and journal editors should try to implement these suggestions and then work to improve the classification.