As a member of the university’s research committee, I have been reading the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication (more popularly know as the Vancouver guidelines) as a basis for creating new and general guidelines for the university.
I particularly find the section about authorship credit interesting. Authors of a paper should meet the following three criteria:
- Substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data.
- Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content.
- Final approval of the version to be published.
If a person does not meet all the criteria, s/he should be included in the acknowledgement section rather than being credited as author. Obviously, there are cases where it is difficult to figure out who should be included as authors and who should not. This is particularly the case for ongoing collaborations where several people have been developing things together and have already written some papers together, and it is difficult to distinguish the importance of old and new contributions to the paper.