The journal’s October Editorial outlines new policies that refine the responsibilities of authors and require author contribution statements in Nature Chemical Biology research papers ( Nat. Chem. Bio. 5, 697; 2009):
“When a manuscript is submitted to Nature Chemical Biology, one author assumes the role of corresponding author. This individual, typically a principal investigator of the study, serves as the central point of contact for the manuscript and manages communication with the journal while the paper is under consideration. Corresponding authors also take responsibility for coordinating communication among the paper’s authors and for certifying that all authors have agreed to the contents of the manuscript prior to submission. Our ”http://www.nature.com/authors/editorial_policies/authorship.html">updated authorship policy now clarifies the corresponding author’s role in managing the manuscript’s author list: prior to submission, the corresponding author “ensures that all authors are included in the author list, its order has been agreed by all authors, and that all authors are aware that the paper was submitted”.
Why are these changes needed? Because publication records remain an important metric for assessing the research productivity of individual scientists, it is essential that author lists are accurate and are determined in an objective and open manner. Most authorship disputes result from lack of clarity on two main points: (i) defining whether an individual’s scientific contributions warrant authorship and (ii) determining the order of the author list. Obtaining agreement on these points is made more challenging by differences in authorship models among disciplines and individual laboratories, and by the fact that collaborative papers in interdisciplinary areas often include data from multiple research groups."
The Editorial goes on to describe further details of these policies, including the introduction of authors’ contributions statements in published articles.