“Reflections” is a new column featuring thoughts and commentary by former HEALTHCARE DESIGN Editor-in-Chief Richard L. Peck.

For my first effort from the “back of the book”—not such a bad neighborhood, really—I'd like to look back on something that caused my staff and me frequent headaches in putting together HEALTHCARE DESIGN over the years. I'm speaking of the issue of credit—who should receive credit for doing what on a given project? You would think that would be a simple matter to handle, no problem at all. You would be wrong.

Recently we ran an online poll at http://healthcaredesi.wpengine.com asking about this, with response choices ranging from a positive “my firm almost always assigns and receives appropriate credit,” then getting progressively negative, from “sometimes overlooked or not assigned” to “this is a major problem for the field.” Fully 100% of respondents totally ignored the first choice. The vote broke down to 42.86% for the “sometimes” and 57.14% for the “major problem.”

Even though we can't claim scientific accuracy for a poll sampling of this type, such a response would seem astonishing—but I knew better. Indeed, the poll question had been inspired by an interior designer's not receiving credit for a lead role in a project because the individual was no longer employed by the submitting firm. It was sort of a full circle from my first experience with this—a young, up-and-coming design firm assigning major credit to a large, well-known firm, which had paved the way for its getting the job but had otherwise done nothing. I remember asking the young partner-in-charge about this. It was just the way things were done, he said.

We've gone through several credit discrepancies, shortfalls, nonmentions, etc., since then, to the point that we established a magazine policy: no more print corrections. Firms submitting projects or otherwise involved in developing articles had to assume responsibility for the accuracy of their credits. It was clear that we might have a significant space problem otherwise, so commonplace was the situation.

I don't mean to sound naïve. I know that Architecture and interior design are as political as any other field. It is at least as competitive as any other field (and thank heaven for that, from a publishing standpoint). But it just seems to be common decency to assign credit where it's due. Why be modest or stoic about it? If you've done the work, it would be nice to know who you are. With all the richness and variety of this highly creative field, there seems to be sufficient room for a bit more relaxed, generous attitude on this—even in these hard times. HD

Healthcare Design 2009 February;9(2):56