Authorship: Practical Challenges

The 2019 ISMPP EU conference had a large variety of interesting sessions on offer, and I was lucky enough to attend as part of the Cello Health Communications team. I particularly enjoyed the circuit training – roundtable session on the topic of ‘Authorship: Practical Challenges’.

At this roundtable the various authorship challenges most publication professionals face on a daily basis were discussed. From this session it was agreed that the most common hurdles we come across were; handling authors who are unresponsive, who do not provide substantial contribution and those who claim they have no conflicts of interest. The following tips and suggestions were put forward.

  • Ways to handle authors who are unresponsive:
    • Contact assistants, country affiliates and co-authors – we have found this method to be very effective
    • Pre-emptive emails – giving authors a heads up of when they should expect a manuscript to ensure they actually have time to review the work, which also avoids receiving the out-of-office emails
    • Keep a paper trail of all your correspondence and emails – as evidence that you have attempted to reach them
  • Ways to handle authors who do not provide substantial contribution:
    • Find opportunities later in the publication development process to ask for more feedback
    • Attach comments from their co-authors and ask if they agree with these
    • Leave out sections in the document e.g. send out an abstract without a conclusion and ask authors to provide suggestions
    • Discuss with authors in the kick-off call as to what is expected at each stage, you could even mention the clients SOP and explain how delays impact the publication process
  • Ways to handle authors who claim they have no conflicts of interest:
    • Challenge them by giving examples of conflict of interest they might not have thought about.
    • Check if the journal/congress requires any other disclosures additional to those of ICJME