Authorship Criteria
Intro Page

Hunt, R. 1991. Trying an authorship index. Nature, 352: 187.

Sir - Few issues in scientific life can now match authorship of collaborative work for its potential to

distract and destroy. The use of bibliometric indices as performance indicators places great weight upon

uncertain foundations. How does one compare senior versus junior, staff member versus visitor, money

versus time, or backache versus headache versus heartache?

The unit in which I work uses a set of formal rules based upon a simple points table. The maximum

score possible is 100 points. Each potential author is awarded the highest realistic score in each

category; whoever achieves a total of 25 points is offered joint authorship in rank order of total score. In

the event of ties, recent near-misses are considered; if none exists, alphabetical order is used.

The scheme is used mainly for experimental papers in plant ecology. A variant for theoretical studies

has a 15-point scale for data-capture and a 25-point scale for specialist input. However, we have avoided

too much tinkering because simplicity and generality are important goals. Preliminary experience with

these rules has been encouraging - perhaps readers may wish to test them for themselves?

Roderick Hunt

NERC Unit of Comparative Plant Ecology

Dept of Animal and Plant Sciences

The University

Sheffield S10 2TN


PDF of authorship paper

Dick Tracy