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Letters   |    
How Many Authors Is Too Many?: In Reply
Howard H. Goldman, M.D., Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2012; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.20120p293a
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Copyright © 2012 by the American Psychiatric Association.

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In Reply: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify the journal's policy on authorship. While 20 authors is quite a crowd for a regular article or a brief report, multiple authorship has become the rule for research journals, reflecting the complex collaborative work required to advance scholarship. We limit the number of authors for some items—Taking Issue and other brief commentaries, letters to the editor, and Frontline Reports—although we occasionally relax these limits, as we do word limits for some submissions.

However, for regular articles and brief reports, we do not impose a limit on the number of authors. Like most scholarly journals, Psychiatric Services' authorship criteria follow those set forth by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (www.icmje.org/ethical_1author.html). The journal requires each author to have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content. For this reason, we send an attestation of authorship form to each author upon acceptance of the manuscript.

Each author is required to sign this form certifying that he or she

  • made a significant contribution to the conception and design of experimental studies or the analysis and interpretation of data,
  • participated in drafting the manuscript or reviewing and/or revising it for intellectual content, and
  • approved the final version of the manuscript.

Each author must also certify that his or her role as author was not limited solely to

  • the acquisition of funding for the research or
  • his or her position as chair or director of a relevant department, division, or research group.

In our view, if authors are willing to put their reputations behind the published material by signing the form, then a byline seems the least we can do to honor their commitment to the research.

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