Letter by Pasternak and Cahill Regarding Article, “Manuscript Preparation and Publication”
To the Editor:
We commend the article by Holmes et al1 for offering valuable advice and directions on multiple aspects of writing and publishing. In particular, the guidance on authorship issues, including the determination of the order of authors before entering late-stage manuscript development, is both informed and pragmatic.
That being said, we are troubled by one section of the article. The article’s stated focus is on carrying out the planning through publishing of “academic manuscripts”; comments are periodically made that the article’s intended audience is the young investigator at an “academic institution,” and perhaps the assumption is made that the authoring team consists of academic colleagues. This perspective may explain the authors’ comments about “nonacademic” authorship—namely, that coauthors from industry are acceptable but that first authors from industry are not. Such a view would represent a prejudicial departure from the requirements of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors,2 which leave authorship decisions to the authoring team. If an author from industry were judged by the manuscript’s authoring team to have made the most significant contributions to an article and had met all International Committee of Medical Journal Editors authorship requirements (which the Circulation journals have endorsed and adhere to), that author should clearly be listed as the lead author.
Effective, unbiased research collaboration between industry scientists and academic scientists is routine in both clinical and basic investigations related to drug discovery, development, and testing. We believe that there should likewise be unbiased, consistent application of International Committee of Medical Journal Editors principles. We hope that the statements of the authors do not reflect the policies of Circulation and its companion journals, and we urge the editor to clarify the journals’ position.
Dr Pasternak and M. Cahill are both employees of Merck & Co, Inc and own stock in the company. M. Cahill was formerly Executive Vice President, Journal Publishing for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, the publisher of Circulation and its companion journals.
Holmes DR, Hodgson PK, Nishimura RA, Simari RD. Manuscript preparation and publication. Circulation. 2009; 120: 906–913.
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Ethical Considerations in the Conduct and Reporting of Research: Authorship and Contributorship. Available at: http://www.icmje.org/ethical_1author.html. Accessed October 12, 2009.