Friday, January 25, 2013

Letter Responding to Dance, “Authorship: Who's on first?” Nature

We found the recent piece in Nature on authorship issues quite interesting, particularly as it applied to consortium manuscripts. The piece adequately pointed out the tremendous complexities in assigning credit in large manuscripts with many authors. The fact that science is increasingly becoming a team endeavor with many different specialists working together makes this subject all the more important. It is of course particularly important for young scientists trying to establish their name and find jobs and funding. The piece said that the descriptions of author contributions in the recent ENCODE Consortium papers were too brief and did not discuss the contribution of each author in detail. We would like to point out that in the article “Architecture of the human regulatory network derived from ENCODE data,” author contributions are described in great detail in the supplementary material. In the main text, contribution was broken only into the broad categories of data production and analysis, while the relative level of intensity of the authors’ contributions are carefully noted by joint first authorship. Beyond that space-limited description, there is a very clear statement in the supplementary material of the primary authors responsible for each exhibit, supplementary figure, and supplementary data file. This form of micro-attribution is very important in ascribing credit but is also extremely valuable for readers seeking assistance and follow up about specific elements of the manuscript.

Roger Alexander and Mark Gerstein

In relation to:

Nature 489, 591 (2012) | doi: 10.1038/nj7417-591a
Authorship: Who's on first?
Amber Dance

Nature 489, 91 (2012) | doi: 10.1038/nature11245
Architecture of the human regulatory network derived from ENCODE data
Gerstein, M.B. et al.