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February 9, 1994

Authorship! Authorship!Guests, Ghosts, Grafters, and the Two-Sided Coin

JAMA. 1994;271(6):469-471. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510300075043

"Authorship cannot be conferred; it may be undertaken by one who will shoulder the responsibility that goes with it."1

Scientists who become authors display a rich variety of publication habits. Isaac Newton was famously reluctant to publish and, when he did, to attach his name to the work.2 More recently, and less famously, Yury Struchkov published one paper every 3.9 days for 10 years, while 20 researchers worldwide each published at least once every 11.3 days throughout the decade of the 1980s.3

See also p 438.

Whichever strategy is employed, the product of research is embodied in a manuscript that, once published, allows others to try to replicate and extend the work. Scientists believe they invest their lives in their research and in each manuscript. The published paper, though ostensibly merely a means of communication, is tangible evidence of this intellectual effort. Research workers, expecting to see