As co-signatories on a consensus statement released this month (see B. Morton et al. Anaesthesia https://doi.org/10.1111/anae.15597; 2021), we call on all scientific journals to adopt a system that promotes fairness in author-contribution assessments for research done in low-to-middle-income countries by teams that include authors from institutions in high-income countries.
Our system consists of a structured reflexivity statement that asks authors a series of open-ended questions that broadly follow established authorship criteria (see go.nature.com/3aeded2). These help to ensure that researchers from low- to-middle income countries and other disadvantaged groups, such as women and early-career researchers, are properly represented.
Progress in addressing such imbalances has been slow (A. I. Obasi Lancet 396, 651–653; 2020). For example, one-fifth of the papers describing COVID-19 in Africa contain no African authors and, of those that do, the first and last authors are almost always from high-income nations (A. V. Naidoo et al. BMJ Glob. Health 6, e004612; 2021).
Such reflexivity statements (see also Cell 184, 1–2; 2021 and go.nature.com/3degzc2) will encourage inclusive and open discussion of issues affecting equity, including capacity strengthening and research legacy in host countries.
Nature 598, 415 (2021)
The authors declare no competing interests.