Do Medical Journals Provide Clear and Consistent Guidelines on Authorship?

Elizabeth Wager, MA

In This Article


A sample of 252 journals was identified (as part of another project to determine whether journals mention professional medical writers in their instructions to authors, which will be reported separately). These comprised the 12 journals edited by ICMJE members (which are well-known general journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, and a number of national medical association journals), a random sample of 120 journals whose editors are members of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) (from a total membership list of 763), and a random sample of 120 non-WAME members taken from the Medline database (produced by the United States National Library of Medicine which contained 18,673 journals at the time of the study). The random samples were taken by applying computer-generated random number lists to the WAME membership list and Medline journal list to obtain samples of 120 from each. Journals were excluded if they were obviously non-biomedical (eg, Medline includes journals on astronomy, horticulture, and ecology), did not publish original research, or did not make instructions to contributors available in English on the Internet. This left a total of 234 biomedical journals whose policies could be checked. Their instructions to contributors were downloaded from journal Web sites between February 24 and March 2, 2006.


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