METM18 keynote 

Credit and merit: toward a transparent, ethical publishing culture

Iria del Río

Since the 1990s, scholarly and editorial associations, as well as some publishing groups, have been struggling to clarify the rules of the authorship game we know as "publish-or-perish". Consensus about a universal definition of authorship has proved to be more an aspirational goal than a feasible objective, however. Language experts who work with authors are familiar with the problem from the author’s point of view: authorship is needed for promotion and so all contributors on a project jockey for a position on the list. Or a lead author may be pressured to bestow gift authorship on an influential colleague or supervisor who may not meet the criteria. The problem becomes visible to journal editors at a later stage, after review or even after publication: disputes among colleagues may emerge and lead to challenges, calling the integrity of the research itself into question; or explicit charges of publication or research misconduct may lead to manuscript retractions and finger-pointing among authors.

Authorship is intended to give credit to whoever merits it. Authors are also the persons who guarantee the integrity of the work as published. Guidelines, definitions and flowcharts have been put in place by publishers, research institutions and associations such as COPE, ICMJE, OASPA and WAME. While not always easily enforceable, these guidelines attempt to simplify the concepts – especially responsibilities – and define terms like guest, gift and ghost authorship for academic communities. 
This talk will review past and present notions of authorship and emphasize current trends in criteria, from biomedicine to the humanities and social sciences. We will look at the rights and responsibilities that come with authorship. We’ll also define the different ways credit can be given, explaining an updated contributorship model that many journal editors call for today. Language experts who advise authors and intervene in their manuscripts before submission are stakeholders in the process of ethical research reporting. Understanding the concepts that underlie fair, unambiguous assignment of credit is the key to helping to shape a more ethical publication environment.

About the presenter 
Iria del Río is a member of the Council of COPE – the Committee on Publication Ethics, an international organization that advises and educates editors about ethical practices. Iria’s involvement with COPE is a natural outcome of her responsibilities as Editorial Director (since 2008) of Revista Española de Cardiología (REC), the official journal of the Spanish Society of Cardiology, which is published online in both Spanish and English. Before joining the REC team, she gained a comprehensive understanding of editorial challenges through international experience in areas outside the biomedical field, including her position as a communications officer at the UN World Tourism Organization and other non-academic book publishing collaborations. Her background is in communication and management (BA degree in Journalism, BA in English Studies, and an MA in Strategic and Policy Management of Tourism Destinations). She is based in Madrid, Spain.