Authorship in a multicenter clinical trial: The Heart Failure-A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes of Exercise Training (HF-ACTION) Authorship and Publication (HAP) scoring system results

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American heart journal


BACKGROUND: Few guidelines exist regarding authorship on manuscripts resulting from large multicenter trials. The HF-ACTION investigators devised a system to address assignment of authorship on trial publications and tested the outcomes in the course of conducting the large, multicenter, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-funded trial (n = 2,331; 82 clinical sites; 3 countries). The HF-ACTION Authorship and Publication (HAP) scoring system was designed to enhance rate of dissemination, recognize investigator contributions to the successful conduct of the trial, and harness individual expertise in manuscript generation.

METHODS: The HAP score was generated by assigning points based on investigators' participation in trial enrollment, follow-up, and adherence, as well as participation in committees and other trial activity. Overall publication rates, publication rates by author, publication rates by site, and correlation between site publication and HAP score using a Poisson regression model were examined.

RESULTS: Fifty peer-reviewed, original manuscripts were published within 6.5 years after conclusion of study enrollment. In total, 137 different authors were named in at least 1 publication. Forty-five (55%) of the 82 sites had an author named to at least 1 article. A Poisson regression model examining incident rate ratios revealed that a higher HAP score resulted in a higher incidence of a manuscript, with a 100-point increase in site score corresponding to an approximately 32% increase in the incidence of a published article.

CONCLUSIONS: Given the success in publishing a large number of manuscripts and widely distributing authorship, regular use of a transparent, objective authorship assignment system for publishing results from multicenter trials may be recommended to optimize fairness and dissemination of trial results.

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Authorship; Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic; Exercise Therapy; Heart Failure; Humans; Multicenter Studies as Topic; Publishing

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