Style of authorship

Two styles of authorship are commonly used. It is important that collaborators agree on the style to be adopted. It will sometimes be necessary to explain to journal editors why the chosen style has been adopted, and that the choice was made with the agreement of those collaborating in the trial. It is better to do this at the time a paper is submitted than to correct editorial alterations made on a proof.

Group authorship

♦ The group responsible for the trial is named as the author and the members of the group are listed. For example, the authorship of a report is stated as: 'Medical Research Council Testis Tumour Working Party,' and the people who were members during the period of the trial are listed in a footnote.

♦ Those responsible for managing the trial and drafting the report, usually the trial management group, are named. This can be done in the form: 'Prepared on behalf of the working party and its collaborators by...' immediately after the statement of group authorship.

This style of group authorship is almost always the appropriate style for reports of large international trials or meta-analyses involving other trials groups in addition to the group primarily responsible for conducting the study.

Named authorship

♦ Those responsible for coordinating and managing the trial, usually the trial management group, are named as authors. The working party or equivalent group can be named in the title or in parenthesis; for example, 'Name, Name, Name, on behalf of the Medical Research Council Testis Tumour Working Party'. Alternatively, 'a Medical Research Council Testis Tumour Working Party trial' can appear in the title.

♦ The named authors may include clinicians who have contributed at least an agreed minimum number of patients or an agreed proportion of the total intake, or who have made a uniquely important contribution to the success of the trial. It needs to be born in mind, however, that small centres may have randomized a far higher proportion of their eligible patients than large centres although the total numbers entered by large centres are higher.

♦ It needs to be appreciated that references in journals are often quoted in the form: Name, Name, Name, etal.; title; journal reference. The parenthesis:'on behalf of the... Group' may sometimes be omitted. This difficulty is avoided if the group provenance is included in the title.

In abstracts, it is usual to use named authorship; in this case, the person presenting the paper should be the first (or only) named author. If group authorship is used, the presenter's name can be given in the form: 'Group, presented by Name'

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