FASEB J backs off their ill considered authorship policy

Mar 23 2015 Published by under Science Publication

The offending policy.

Of course, unless they get to the bottom of who asserted that reviewers and AEs who suggest experiments should be added to the author line we have to assume the attitude remains.

20 responses so far

  • potnia theron says:

    Sometimes the world, it does turn.

  • Established PI says:

    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I don't think they said that the reviewers/editors should be added as authors, it just is the logical follow on for post-docs not being included as authors because they did not suggest the experiment. Of course this suggests that the critical germ for authorship lay with the reviewer/editor. I don't get these ideas. This does seem to relate to an old school idea from some that technicians need never be authors on papers because they were only working as directed. I am not of that feeling because if you work on the paper, you contribute and the nature of how contributions are measured in my field is through authorship, and everybody needs a record of their productivity given no stability in employment.

  • Dave says:

    No wonder FASEBJs IF has tanked so badly.....

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    I have read instructions during submissions that said that those added as authors should have made an intellectual contribution to the manuscript. Presumably, this translates to those that have not made intellectual contributions need to be added as authors. Official statements like these can be irresponsibly responsible for keeping those who worked merely as bench hands off the author list. Personally, I ignore such statements when adding authors on my submissions.

  • Noncoding Arenay says:

    *Presumably, this translates to those that have not made intellectual contributions need NOT be added as authors.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    What kind of journal makes an important editorial policy change like this within one day of people complaining? Do they not have an official internal procedure for establishing and modifying editorial policies, or is it just ad hoc seat of the pants? The manner and speed with which this policy was changed is nearly as troubling to me as the original policy itself.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Personally, I ignore such statements when adding authors on my submissions.

    I ignore all of these officious statements about who does and does not deserve an authorship. Instead, I rely upon the standards defined by actual published scientific work in my fields of interest.

    And of course I defend the right and responsibility of the lab head / PI to determine with benevolent despotism who deserves authorship of papers from their respective laboratory.

    The manner and speed with which this policy was changed is nearly as troubling to me as the original policy itself.

    Perhaps upon review they found that some random employee had inserted that into the website page for LoLZies?

  • Davis Sharp says:

    Other than (maybe) the turnaround time, there's no way to tell whether the idea really came from the reviewer. As stated in another thread, ideas aren't unique. Years ago, my mentor and a postdoc submitted a paper. The reviewers wanted to see an additional control which I had already done for my own work. I contributed the figure and became 2nd author. Obviously, FASEB J did not consider all the possibilities.

  • rxnm says:

    If nothing else, this is a good time to point out the LOLziness of the utopia where journals are run by the wise, triple-digit h-index graybeards that lead our professional societies.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Of course DS. Also the twelve other experiments you and your collaborators thought of doing but decided not to for various reasons. Absurd for the reviewer to assume authors somehow never thought of it.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    And then assume because they told you, the people in your lab become simple-minded experiment machines, even though the experiment might only be interpretable because all the puzzle pieces were in place for the reviewer/editor to suggest it- experiment might be impossible otherwise.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Your people aren't just robots? Huh. Mine either.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Between this and recent mucking around with policies at PLoS, it seems like journals are tinkering with their editorial policies in some misguided effort to establish their "brand identity".

  • drugmonkey says:

    You mean that dumb idea that PLoS ONE would require public deposition of the raw data? Did they back off of that yet?

  • ProgamOfficerBob says:

    Comradde PhysioProffe brings up the most important point. Policy changes should be carefully considered, thoughtfully implemented, and uniformly and fairly enforced. A couple days of anonymous bloggers complaints should not move the needle. Very troubling.

  • drugmonkey says:

    A couple days of anonymous bloggers complaints should not move the needle. Very troubling.>

    Why shouldn't such complaints (as you characterize them, I would say observations) move the needle and why is it troubling?

    Are you asserting that what matters most is the source of the illumination being cast on a policy rather than the correctness of said policy?

  • Are you asserting that what matters most is the source of the illumination being cast on a policy rather than the correctness of said policy?

    I think what he's saying is that it is lunacy that an organization like a respected professional science journal that represents a scientific society umbrella organization appears to be making important editorial policy decisions on an ad hoc opaque procedureless basis--as if there was a fire they needed to put out--rather than by following an established transparent process for enacting and revising editorial policies. This concern is completely independent of (1) the source of illumination being cast on a policy and (2) the correctness of the policy. It's supposed to be a professional science journal run by professional scientists, not a 'zine run out of a loft in Williamsburg. A couple days of complaints by identified NAS members shouldn't have moved the needle in this manner, either. Try to keep your eye on the ball.

  • drugmonkey says:

    If that were the case than POB could have simply made that observation instead of adding comment on the source of the "complaints" about the policy.

  • dsks says:

    "I think what he's saying is that it is lunacy that an organization like a respected professional science journal that represents a scientific society umbrella organization appears to be making important editorial policy decisions on an ad hoc opaque procedureless basis"

    Yes, but coming at it from the wrong end I think. The example of "making important editorial policy decisions on an ad hoc opaque procedureless basis" was probably how the daft policy statement came about in the first place. In which case, it's more than likely that the swift response simply indicates an admission that this was a lapse in oversight on the front end. Any more than correcting typos, it probably didn't warrant meetings, votes and paper trails to overrule the policy once it was established that it hadn't been properly and formally reviewed by appropriate number of people in the first place. It was a batshit insane statement, and although it's possible that a majority of FASEB J editors had reviewed, agreed, and ratified it, this seems unlikely, hence the hasty retreat.

    And, of course, nobody fucks with the Twittersphere, because it's just too crazy and angry.

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