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February 4, 1998

Authors vs Contributors: Accuracy, Accountability, and Responsibility

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(5):356-357. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-279-5-jbk0204

To the Editor.— "Authorship" has not failed1; those who misapply or subvert it have. The lexical meaning of "author" in the relevant context is clear: "one who sets forth written statements; the composer or writer of a treatise or book."2 Doesn't the introduction of "contributor" and "guarantor" only further complicate and confuse the issue without really solving any problems? Contributors can still "defend themselves by denying knowledge of the fabrication," pointing to the limits of their acknowledged contributions. Although the authors try to address objections to their proposal, it is still not clear how increasing the auctorial group and identifying specific responsibilities will preclude basic dishonesty, dissimulation, fraud, or abuse.

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