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Authorship in ecology: attribution, accountability, and responsibility



Quality and quantity of publications are among the most important measures determining the success of ecologists. The past 50 years have seen a steady rise in the number of researchers and collaborative manuscripts, and a corresponding increase in multi-authored articles. Despite these increases, there remains a shortage of useful and definitive guidelines to aid ecologists in addressing authorship issues, leading to a lack of consistency in what the term “author” really means. Deciding where to draw the line between those who have earned authorship and those who are more appropriately credited in the acknowledgments may be one of the more challenging aspects of authorship. Here, we borrow ideas from other scientific disciplines and propose a simple solution to help ecologists who are making such decisions. We recommend improving communication between co-authors throughout the research process, and propose that authors publish their contributions to a manuscript in a separate byline.