Did You Know? Decoding Multiple-Author Studies

By Jason Clevenger

A majority of studies described have multiple authors, often from institutions in different countries. Hidden within the listing order of the names of authors are clues about the roles of the contributors. The “lead author” is usually the person who has written the majority of the journal article and is usually listed first. The author listed last is typically the “principal investigator,” who is the most senior member of the author group. For celiac disease risk evaluation studies, collaboration with a Swedish institution is highly desirable due to their high-quality medical records data going back to the late 1960s. Closer to home, American researchers working through hospital-based celiac centers have easier access to patients and high-quality laboratories. Collaborations between these clinical researchers and epidemiologists allow advances to be made on multiple fronts. A study regarding cross contamination and non-responsive celiac disease is a good example of this kind of collaboration. That study was led by a Johns Hopkins researcher but based on work done by the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Mass General Hospital for Children.