As a publisher of Ciencia, Western Mindanao State University is committed to the highest degree of academic, professional, legal and ethical standards for manuscript publication. These publication ethics and scientific malpractice statement protocol by Ciencia was approved and adopted as an institutional publication policy last February 24, 2020 during the Joint Academic and Administrative Council Meeting.
1. Publication Authorship Criteria
Although journal editors do not always agree among themselves on what constitutes authorship, many of them subscribe to the guidance from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), also known as the Vancouver group. Since Ciencia, formerly WMSU Research Journal, is a member of the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE), and subsequently a member of ICMJE, this set of criteria for authors is being adopted by Ciencia:
a. Have made substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
b. Have been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
c. Have given final approval of the version to be published. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content; and
d. Have agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
In the case of theses and dissertations, the advisers may opt to be part of the authorship. However, the student as the main/first author has the authority to decide who will be the co-authors, to include those who have imparted intellectual knowledge to the paper. Statisticians, panel evaluators and subject teachers may be part of the authorship but decision will depend critically on the first author’s discretion based on their substantial contribution to the writing of the manuscript.
Generally speaking, the most sought-after position is the first. The first named author is therefore held to have made the greatest contribution to the research. Sometimes, significance is attached to being the last named author. Authors have often given the last place to a senior team member who contributed expertise and guidance. This is consistent with the ICMJE criteria if this person was involved in study design, the interpretation of the data, and critically reviewed the publication. This is also applicable to advisers in the thesis or dissertation of the students (Research Writing and Journal Publication Guide, 2018).
2. Publication Authorship Order
To avoid conflict of interest, Ciencia requires submitting authors to fill-up the Authorship Agreement Form (WMSU-RUPID-FR-009.00), where all authors should agree on the order in which their names will be listed in the manuscript. This will guarantee that authors have been properly listed on the manuscript.
The ICMJE guidelines state that the order of authorship should be a joint decision of the co-authors. Wherever possible, make these decisions even before the start of the project. Some groups list authors alphabetically, sometimes with a note to explain that all authors made equal contributions to the study and the publication.
3. Other key concepts in authorship:
3.1. Acknowledgements: Contributions from anyone who does not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed, with permission from the contributor in the Acknowledgements section (for example, to recognize contributions from people who provided technical help, collation of data, writing assistance, acquisition of funding, or a department chairperson who provided general support).
3.2. Corresponding author: This refers to the person who receives the reviewers’ comments, the proofs, etc. and whose contact details are printed on the article so that readers can request reprints or contact the research group. Journal editors view this as a purely administrative role, but some authors equate it with seniority. Take the views of your co-authors at an early stage, and decide in advance who will be the corresponding author. Ideally, choose somebody whose contact details are not likely to change in the near future.
3.3. Additional Authorship Options: Joint first or senior authorship: In the case of joint first authorship, a footnote should be added to the author listing, e.g. ‘X and Y should be considered joint first author’ or ‘X and Y should be considered joint senior author.’
3.4. Maximum Number of Authors: There are no rules about this. Rather than decide how many authors there should be, it is probably best to agree who will qualify as an author, and then simply include all those who do. However, remember that including a large number of authors usually increases the time it takes to prepare, review and finalize a paper. For student theses, an agreement between mentee-mentor is highly encouraged.
4. Authorship Issues / Publication Malpractice
Common issues on ghost, gift, or guest authors in the manuscript are strictly discouraged by Western Mindanao State University and Ciencia, the official research journal of the Institution.
4.1. Ghost Authorship - usually refers to professional writers (often paid by commercial sponsors) whose role is not acknowledged since their involvement may represent a potential conflict of interest.
4.2. Gift Authorship - People who are listed as authors but who did not make a significant contribution to the research and therefore do not fulfill the ICMJE criteria. These are often senior figures (e.g. heads of department) whose names are added to curry favor (or because it is expected). Another type of gift author is a colleague whose name is added on the understanding that s/he will do the same for you, regardless of your contribution to his/her research, but simply to swell your publication lists.
4.3. Guest Authorship - otherwise termed as honorary author. These persons indirectly affiliate to a study article. Further, submission of the same manuscript to other journals at the same time is considered a publication malpractice.