Grant and Manuscript Authorship

A common concern is whether statistical consultants should be co-authors on scientific papers. We believe that decisions about authorship should be independent of consideration of funding.

As recommended in published guidelines (Parker RA, Berman NG: Criteria for authorship for research consultants in medical papers. Statistics in Medicine 17: 2289-2299 (1998)), "The basis of financial support should be the time/effort spent on a project and the basis for authorship should be whether the statistician [research consultant] has made a scientific contribution to the project."

Some examples of scientific contributions include:

  • The research consultant has developed new statistical methods to meet the project's needs and/or has combined existing techniques in a novel manner.
  • The research consultant has participated in designing the study.
  • The research consultant has written part of the manuscript, describing which statistical methods were used, and/or assisted in writing other sections of the manuscript--including revisions.
  • The research consultant was asked to review/critique an initial draft and spent time suggesting alternate wording and presentation of results.
  • The research consultant provided data analysis along with interpretation of results.

It is our policy that M.S. and Ph.D. research consultants should not just be listed under acknowledgments if any of the above criteria have been met. It is also our policy that our researcher(s) and research consultant(s) assigned to the project agree on criteria for authorship early in their collaboration. Any difference of opinion between our researcher(s) and the research consultant(s) about authorship will be addressed by the Associate Dean for Research.

Whether or not the research consultant is an author, it is important to allow sufficient time for the consultant to check statistical results and descriptions of statistical methods that appear in a manuscript. The time it takes to ensure appropriate methodology is utilized and described will vary from project to project. Therefore, communication about any impending deadlines between our researcher(s) and research consultant(s) is key. It is our policy not to finalize any publication until thorough data cleaning has been performed. Final versions of manuscripts must be reviewed and approved prior to submission. Following submission, final copies must be provided to our research consultant and the Associate Dean for Research.

Last modified: Jun 19, 2014
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