To the Editor.
—The debate on granting authorship of medical articles and in particular on who should be first author, which was summarized by Dr Rennie and Ms Flanagin,1 tends to skirt one of the major problems in this area. Unfortunately, as long as the "paper count" method is used as a major criterion for determining academic promotion, the authorship of scientific articles will continue to be decided on grounds other than pure contribution to the research in question. It is an open secret that authorship of papers is frequently a means of payment for technical, financial, or moral support for a research program.I would recommend that as a first step all journals should present the qualifications and functions of the authors (this would also help to assess the papers' contents in terms of the professional background of the senior authors). In addition, university committees dealing with academic
Green MS. Authorship! Authorship!. JAMA. 1994;271(24):1904. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510480028013