Challenges with authorship of industry-sponsored publications persist despite established guidelines and recommendations (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors [ICMJE] recommendations, Good Publication Practice 3 [GPP3] guidelines). While adherence to the ICMJE authorship recommendations is an accepted standard across the industry, there is considerable ambiguity in the interpretation and application of the authorship criteria (specifically the meaning of “substantial contribution”), and lack of transparency in the author selection process.

  • Defining “substantial intellectual contributions” is a key component of the author selection process (ICMJE criterion #1).
  • Lack of transparency and consistency in the author selection process leads to misconceptions about industry practices that can impact the overall credibility of the publication.

The ISMPP Author Algorithm (AA) Task Force was initiated in the second quarter of 2019, with the goal of addressing the challenges with author selection for industry-sponsored publications and developing a standardized framework for identifying and documenting author contributions in a more consistent and rational manner.

“Importantly, the AA Task Force will provide clarity in understanding and interpreting ‘substantial intellectual contribution’ ‒ ICMJE criterion #1. In addition, the framework or algorithm developed by the Task Force will help increase transparency among research investigators and relevant company personnel with author selection based on pre-defined contributions. The Task Force is looking forward to providing this needed guidance to the ISMPP membership.” ‒ Carolyn Hustad, AA Task Force sponsor

The AA Task Force consists of the four working groups (WG) below and is supported by an ISMPP Steering Committee to ensure consistency of outputs with ICMJE, ISMPP, and GPP principles.

WG1 – Defining Substantial Contributions Provide guidance on defining principles for application of ICMJE criterion #1, defining substantial intellectual contribution, and applying ICMJE criterion #1.
WG2 – Documenting Author Contributions Define principles for documenting author selection criteria and contributions.
WG3 – Authorship Transparency Develop education and communication plans and tools for internal/external stakeholders to communicate guidance and principles from WG1 and WG2.
WG4 – Communication of Task Force Outputs Develop communication strategy and communicate outputs at industry and academic forums.

The AA Task Force plans to share its findings and recommendations at key upcoming conferences, beginning with the 16th Annual Meeting of ISMPP, April 20-22, 2020, in Washington, DC.

The AA Task Force is sponsored by Carolyn Hustad with strategic guidance provided by an ISMPP Steering Committee: Maggie Hodgson, Teri Michelini, Rosanna Tedesco, Karen Mittleman, and Sonia Schweers. The Working Group leads are Michelle Carfagno, Rob Matheis, Stephanie Brown, and Meera Kodukulla.

Contact Rob Matheis, ISMPP President and CEO, ( for additional information or with any questions.

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