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Message from the Department Head

Dr. Richard Leigh

Dr. Richard Leigh, Zone Clinical & Academic Department Head

A young colleague approached me recently for advice on academic authorship. This continues to be a ‘hot – button’ issue that can cause great friction among colleagues. For those who feel disenfranchised in any authorship debate, it invariably results in personal hurt and may dissuade them from being involved in further research endeavors. My own philosophy regarding academic authorship is consistent with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines (www.icmje.org) regarding who is entitled to authorship on a publication.
As part of that process, authorship (and the order of authorship) is best determined at the outset of a study, although this is not always feasible. I’m also not a big fan of joint – first authorship, given that the person whose name is second (often listed in alphabetical order) never really gets the credit for the work as a first author. I follow the rule that s/he who does the work and writes the paper is the first author – I seldom offer joint first authorship, which I believe is a cop-out of recognizing who the ‘true’ first author is.
Talking of academic authorship, I’d like to remind all Department members to please list their affiliation as being the Department of Medicine in all submitted manuscripts. I see publications come out that are authored by Department members, but whose affiliations are listed as their Research Institute or, in some cases, the Department where they hold a joint appointment. The Cumming School of Medicine collects research data for each faculty member within each Department, including metrics such as total number of publications per year, the number of publications per Research equivalent per year, and the number of annual citations. These metrics then inform where we rank within the School, relative to other Departments.
You know I want us to be the #1 Department in the School! With the Holidays fast approaching, many of you will be taking time off to be with family. I will be attending a family wedding in the winelands near Cape Town, and will be back towards the end of December. I wish you all a peaceful and joyous Holiday Season a prosperous 2019!