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Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(9):2395

Upholding the editorial standards of a reputable medical journal like AFP requires not only vigilance in monitoring for violations of authorship criteria and detecting financial conflicts that would create biases, but also quite a paper trail documenting that policies are honored. For those of you who have published articles in AFP and are getting ready to submit your next manuscript, and for those of you who are preparing to submit a manuscript for the first time, it may be of relief and interest to know that AFP has consolidated the paperwork a bit.

This issue contains a new author statements form that will simplify the business of writing for AFP (see page 2667). The result of thoughtful collaboration between AFP's editorial offices in Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Mo. (and, of course, AAFP's advising attorney), this form contains four important elements: (1) a statement of authorship; (2) a statement of financial disclosure; (3) a copyright assignment statement (with an alternative statement for authors employed by the U.S. federal government); and (4) a statement of acknowledgment.

The author statements form will be published along with the “Information to Authors” at least four times per year, in the January 1, April 1, July and October 1 issues, and will appear in additional issues as space permits. It can also be downloaded through AFP's home page ( Manuscripts submitted for publication in AFP must be accompanied by an author statements form that has been signed by each author.

What does this form mean, exactly? For readers, it simply means that articles in AFP will continue to be as authoritative and unbiased as possible. For authors, it means less hassle when signing agreements that uphold the same editorial standards as before.

Authors who sign the authorship statement agree that manuscripts are original, represent valid work, have not been published previously and are not under consideration for publication elsewhere, and verify that they have participated in the work and reviewed and approved the final version.

The financial disclosure statement helps ensure that AFP is not publishing manuscripts that are sponsored directly or indirectly by pharmaceutical companies, public relations firms or other commercial entities. Authors must disclose any financial interest or arrangement with a company that makes a product discussed in the manuscript or a competing product.

The copyright transfer agreement clearly defines ownership of accepted manuscripts, with authors assigning all rights, title and interest in the work, including copyright ownership, to the AAFP, except in the case of authors who are employees of the U.S. federal government, whose work is not protected by the Copyright Act and therefore has no copyright of which ownership can be transferred.

The acknowledgment statement ensures that all persons who have made substantial contributions to the work, but who are not authors, have been named in the acknowledgment and have given their written permission to be named.

Yes, it's red tape, but I think you'll agree it's important red tape, and the new form makes it as painless as possible.

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Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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