We argue that the emerging practice of using the author byline to acknowledge shared data is incompatible with current established standards for academic authorship. Non-author contributors, whether groups or individuals, should not be added to the author list of published papers. Deviation from these principles devalues authorship and raises issues, such as equal treatment of groups and individuals, credit for shared data vs. other shared resources, and ultimately guest authorship. Such dilution of authorship standards is problematic because it can compromise fair evaluations in the scientific community. We briefly discuss viable alternatives for crediting contributors, such as citations of papers describing shared data, reference to dataset publications, inclusion in the Acknowledgments section, or credit of individuals for sharing data in an Appendix, a solution that has been used in academic evaluation.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.