It looks like my post was based on the old AAS Ethics Statement, not the more recent Code of Ethics. That’s fine, but it means the language I quoted was not the latest. The language on who should be an author is the same, so the heart of my posts are unchanged.
But now, the Code says:
As stated in the National Academy of Science document On Being a Scientist, “The list of authors establishes accountability as well as credit,” and “an author who is willing to take credit for a paper must also bear responsibility for its errors or explain why he or she had no professional responsibility for the material in question.”
So this directly addresses one of the most common objections I’m getting (which is not really an objection to my proposal per se, as I’ve said). Right there, in black and white, it says that authors may: “explain why he or she had no professional responsibility for the material in question.”
So this part of my proposal really isn’t very radial at all; it’s right there in the new Code of Ethics!
Also present is this new bit:
Data provided by others must be cited appropriately, even if obtained from a public database.
Which I think everyone agrees on. My entire premise was “what if there is no appropriate citation?” and I’m asking “what does appropriate mean?” I argue that if there is nothing to cite that “counts” today, then this clause can’t be followed, so it no longer overrides the earlier co-authorship requirement.
Finally, on the obligations of co-authors it says:
Every coauthor has an obligation to review a manuscript before its submission, and every coauthor should have the opportunity to do so.
Which is a stronger statement than was in the old policy, but doesn’t affect my argument at all.
The other strain of reaction I’ve gotten is suggestions for reforming our citation and credit system, including adding levels of contributions to papers below “authorship.” I’m all for that; my proposal had to do with what to do with the system we have in the meantime.