- Further reading
Code of Practice for Research: Publication and authorship. 2021. https://ukrio.org/publications/code-of-practice-for-research/3-0-standards-for-organisations-and-researchers/3-15-publication-and-authorship/
Good practice in research: Authorship. Guidance note, 2017 https://ukrio.org/wp-content/uploads/UKRIO-Guidance-Note-Authorship-v1.0.pdf
Authorship challenge. Ten daily challenges, June 2022. https://ukrio.org/wp-content/uploads/UKRIO_SummerChallengeChart_2022.pdf
Responsible, ethical and fair authorship. Slides and video (49 min). Irene Hames on the issues researchers face in getting credit for contributions, the impact disputes can have, and what can avoid problems arising.
How to handle authorship disputes: A guide for new researchers. Tim Albert and Liz Wager for the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), 2003 http://publicationethics.org/files/2003pdf12_0.pdf
Discussion document: Authorship. COPE, 2019. https://publicationethics.org/files/COPE_DD_A4_Authorship_SEPT19_SCREEN_AW.pdf
Authorship and contributorship cases. Anonymised cases discussed at the COPE Forum. https://publicationethics.org/guidance/Case?t=&classification%5B%5D=2772&sort=date
Defining the role of authors and contributors. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), also known as the Vancouver criteria. http://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-and-responsibilities/defining-the-role-of-authors-and-contributors.html
CRediT – contributor roles taxonomy. CASRAI and NISO. https://credit.niso.org/
Implement CRediT using tenzing: https://rollercoaster.shinyapps.io/tenzing/
ORCID – Open Researcher and Contributor ID. A unique identifier for researchers. https://info.orcid.org/what-is-orcid/
Endorsing CRediT and ORCID, and widening the ICMJE criteria. McNutt, M. K., Bradford, M., Drazen, J. M., Hanson, B., Howard, B., Jamieson, K. H., Kiermer, V., Marcus, E., Pope, B.K., Schekman, R., Swaminathan, S., Stang, P. J., & Verma, I. M. (2018). Transparency in authors’ contributions and responsibilities to promote integrity in scientific publication. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 115(11):2557-2560. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1715374115
Authorship and authorship responsibilities. Council of Science Editors (CSE). https://www.councilscienceeditors.org/resource-library/editorial-policies/white-paper-on-publication-ethics/2-2-authorship-and-authorship-responsibilities/
Policy statement: Authorship. World Association of Medical Journal Editors (WAME), 2007. https://wame.org/authorship
Authorship guidelines. An early institutional guideline from Harvard Medical School, 1999. https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Sites/Ombuds/files/AUTHORSHIP%20GUIDELINES.pdf
How to avoid authorship conflicts (infographic). ORI, 2018. https://ori.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/2018-09/Authorship%20Practices%20to%20Avoid%20Conflicts.pdf
Medical writers. Jacobs, A., & Wager, E. (2005). European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) guidelines on the role of medical writers in developing peer-reviewed publications. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 21 (2): 317-321, https://doi.org/10.1185/030079905X25578
Norris, R., Bowman, A., Fagan, J. M., Gallagher, E. R., Geraci, A. B., Gertel, A., Hirsch, L., Ross, P. D., Stossel, T. P., Veitch, K., & Woods, D. (2007). International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) position statement: the role of the professional medical writer. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 23(8): 1837-1840, https://doi.org/10.1185/030079907X210642
“We support complete and transparent disclosure of the role of the medical writer and the source of funding for the writing initiative in order to build awareness of, and trust in, the appropriate use of medical writing professionals. ISMPP endorses use of the contributorship model, which offers detailed information on the roles of all who participated in planning, conducting, developing, and publishing medical research.”
Industry-sponsored research. Carfagno, M. L., Schweers, S. A., Whann, E. A., Hodgson, M. B., Mittleman, K. D., Nastasee, S. A., Sorgenfrei, T., & Kodukulla, M.I, for The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals Authorship Task Force. (2022). Building consensus on author selection practices for industry-sponsored research: recommendations from an expert task force of medical publication professionals. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 19:1-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007995.2022.2050111
Recommendations from The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) Authorship Task Force on the substantial contributions necessary for authorship of industry-sponsored medical research.
Avoiding and resolving disputes. Cooke, S. J., Young, N., Donaldson, M. R., Nyboer, E. A., Roche, D. G., Madliger, C. L., Lennox, R. J., Chapman, J. M., Faulkes, Z., & Bennett, J. R. (2021). Ten strategies for avoiding and overcoming authorship conflicts in academic publishing. FACETS, 6: 1753-1770. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2021-0103
Ways to avoid or overcome conflict: 1. Initiate discussions about authorship expectations early; 2. Consult guidelines but don’t be constrained by them; 3. Document contributions and communicate frequently; 4. Transparency and open scholarship can help; 5. Responsible inclusion in scholarly authorship; 6. Value diverse contributions; 7. Consider contributions to be intellectual property; 8. Seek external input; 9. Realize that authorship norms vary and some perspectives are ingrained; 10. Be aware of power differentials.
Allocating authorship. Eggert, L. D. (2011). Best practices for allocating appropriate credit and responsibility to authors of multi-authored articles. Front. Psychol., 2:00196 https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00196
Before research starts: A. Decide who will be the author(s); B. Define responsibilities of the authors; C. Ask technicians, statisticians, software developer, and other individuals involved, whether they are interested in authorship.
After manuscript preparation, before submission: 1. Create contributors’ list and determine relative contribution; 2. Determine authors in the byline list; 3. Determine guarantor. 4. Determine corresponding author; 5. Disclose contributions.
Good conduct guide. Alfred, J. & Osborne, N. (2022). Good conduct in authorship and publication practice: An introductory guide. Institute for Academic Development. http://www.docs.hss.ed.ac.uk/iad/Researchers/Research_staff/Good_conduct_in_authorship_and_publication_practice_an_introductory_guide.pdf
Standards in authorship. Deborah Poff, Kelly Cobey, Liz Allen, moderated by Trevor Lane, COPE, 2017. https://publicationethics.org/resources/seminars/copes-first-webinar-information-shared-discussion-and-practical-advice-common (51 min)
Research ethics workshop series: Authorship. Ma’n H Zawati from McGill University, Canada, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCrRQaNMTBg (1 h 21 min)
Co-authorship in the humanities and social sciences. Video and white paper, Taylor & Francis, 2017. https://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/co-authorship-in-the-humanities-and-social-sciences/ (3 min)
American Chemical Society (ACS) AuthorUniversity, 2018:
- What constitutes authorship? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H8RyCWrDuI (3 min)
- Deciding authorship order. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTbaXr0Byhg (3 min)
- The evolution of authorship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07L9lABrPXE (2 min)
Ethical authorship versus fraudulent authorship. Sam Oakley, Evan D Kharasch, moderated by Trevor Lane, COPE, 2021. https://publicationethics.org/resources/seminars-and-webinars/ethical-versus-fraudulent-authorship (1 h 3 min)
Women’s contribution to historical theoretical population genetics. Rochelle-Jan Reyes and colleagues present a video abstract for their article (see “Sex and gender”). https://vimeo.com/313424402 (4 min)
📰 – News
💡 – Opinion
🔬 – Research
⭐ – Review
💡 Alfonso, F., Zelveian, P., Monsuez, J. J., Aschermann, M., Böhm, M., Hernandez, A. B., Wang, T. D., Cohen, A., Izetbegovic, S., Doubell, A., Echeverri, D., Enç, N., Ferreira-González, I., Undas, A., Fortmüller, U., Gatzov, P., Ginghina, C., Goncalves, L., Addad, F., Hassanein, M., Heusch, G., Huber, K., Hatala, R., Ivanusa, M., Lau, C. P., Marinskis, G., Cas, L. D., Rochitte, C. E., Nikus, K., Fleck, E., Pierard, L., Obradović, S., Del Pilar Aguilar Passano, M., Jang, Y., Rødevand, O., Sander, M., Shlyakhto, E., Erol, Ç., Tousoulis, D., Ural, D., Piek, J. J., Varga, A., Flammer, A. J., Mach, F., Dibra, A., Guliyev, F., Mrochek, A., Rogava, M., Guzman Melgar, I., Di Pasquale, G., Kabdrakhmanov, K., Haddour, L., Fras, Z., Held, C., & Shumakov, V.; Editors’ Network, European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Task Force. (2019). Authorship: from credit to accountability. Reflections from the Editors’ Network. Rev Colomb Cardiol., 26(3): 117-124 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rccar.2019.02.002 (Joint simultaneous publication initiative involving all interested National and Affiliated Cardiovascular Journals of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).)
The Editors’ Network of the European Society of Cardiology discuss authorship following the revision of the ICMJE criteria to include responsibility and accountability for authorship.
⭐ Aliukonis, V., Poškutė, M., & Gefenas, E. (2020). Perish or Publish Dilemma: Challenges to Responsible Authorship. Medicina, 56, no. 3: 123. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina56030123
Review of authorship misuse calling for more empirical research into its prevalence, integrating training into curricula for students and early-career researchers, establishing institutional procedures to resolve authorship disputes, and the adoption of balanced, realistic authorship guidelines.
🔬 Birnholtz, J.P. (2006). What does it mean to be an author? The intersection of credit, contribution, and collaboration in science. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 57: 1758-1770. DOI:10.1002/asi.20380 https://socialmedia.soc.northwestern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Birnholtz06.pdf
Qualitative research into the meaning of authorship in high-energy physics with the rise of hyperauthorship concludes that authors should be familiar with the work and able to defend it, and major contributors should be distinguished.
⭐ Feeser, V. R., & Simon, J. R. (2008). The Ethical Assignment of Authorship in Scientific Publications: Issues and Guidelines. Academic Emergency Medicine, 15: 963-969. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1553-2712.2008.00239.x
An authorship case study from emergency medicine bookends a review of ethical authorship.
⭐ Hosseini, M., & Gordijn, B. (2020). A review of the literature on ethical issues related to scientific authorship. Accountability in Research, 27:5, 284-324, DOI:10.1080/08989621.2020.1750957 https://email@example.com
“Ten ethical themes have been identified, some of which entail several ethical issues. Ranked on the basis of their frequency of occurrence these themes are: 1) attribution, 2) violations of the norms of authorship, 3) bias, 4) responsibility and accountability, 5) authorship order, 6) citations and referencing, 7) definition of authorship, 8) publication strategy, 9) originality, and 10) sanctions.”
🔬 Ing, E. B. (2021). A Survey-Weighted Analytic Hierarchy Process to Quantify Authorship. Adv Med Educ Pract. 12:1021-1031. DOI:10.2147/AMEP.S328648. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8450677/
An authorship metric based on the ICMJE criteria and a survey of members of the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME), with a free downloadable calculator: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KIy-18Mth1dcQ_lT8M3f5bqsz03FaBdmO8ZSvqHjYos/edit#gid=0
To use this, download it as an Excel file, enable editing, and edit the values in column H to calculate the authorship score and whether the author meets the ICMJE criteria.
🔬 Johann, D., & Mayer, S. J. (2019). The Perception of Scientific Authorship Across Domains. Minerva 57, 175–196. DOI: 10.1007/s11024-018-9363-3 http://sabrinajmayer.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/JohannMayer2018_Perceptions_of_Authorship_Minerva_authorsversion.pdf
“Our findings show that researchers’ perceptions about what tasks are seen as sufficient for authorship vary enormously by domain. Whereas in the Humanities traditional authorship perceptions still prevail, we find large shares of researchers that perceive supervision and management/managerial tasks as sufficient for granting authorship in the Natural Sciences.”
🔬 Johann, D. (2022). Perceptions of Scientific Authorship Revisited: Country Differences and the Impact of Perceived Publication Pressure. Sci Eng Ethics 28 (10). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-021-00356-z
“As perceived pressure to publish increases, researchers are more likely to belong to a group of academics who hold the view that any type of contribution/task justifies co-authorship, including even those contributions/tasks that do not justify co-authorship according to most authorship guidelines.”
⭐ Martini, R. (2017). Figuring out the “who” and the “where” of authorship. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 84(1), 4–6. https://doi.org/10.1177/0008417417691742
Can research assistants, practitioners, and students be authors?
🔬 Marušić, A., Bošnjak, L., Jerončić, A. (2011). A Systematic Review of Research on the Meaning, Ethics and Practices of Authorship across Scholarly Disciplines. PLOS ONE 6(9): e23477. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023477
A systematic review of research on authorship until 2011 “identified four general themes common to all research disciplines: authorship perceptions, definitions and practices, defining order of authors on the byline, ethical and unethical authorship practices, and authorship issues related to student/non-research personnel-supervisor collaboration.”
🔬 Marušic, A., Hren, D., Mansi, B., Lineberry, N., Bhattacharya, A., Garrity, M., Clark, J., Gesell, T., Glasser, S., Gonzalez, J., Hustad, C., Lannon, M-M., Mooney, L. A., & Peña, T. (2014). Five-step authorship framework to improve transparency in disclosing contributors to industry-sponsored clinical trial publications. BMC Medicine, 12:197. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-014-0197-z
A survey of nearly 500 clinical trial investigators, editors, publishing professionals, and medical writers by the Medical Publishing Insights and Practices (MPIP) Initiative was used to create “a more standardized approach when determining authorship for clinical trial publications”: 1. Establish an authorship working group early in the trial; 2. Determine substantial contribution criteria; 3. Document trial contributions; 4. Determine those making a substantial contribution; 5. Ensure authors meet remaining authorship criteria.
⭐ Osborne, J. W., & Holland, A. (2009). What is authorship, and what should it be? A survey of prominent guidelines for determining authorship in scientific publications. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation, 14:15. https://doi.org/10.7275/25pe-ba85
“The goal of this paper is to review prominent and diverse guidelines concerning scientific authorship and to attempt to synthesize existing guidelines into recommendations that represent ethical practices for ensuring credit where (and only where) credit is due.”
🔬 Patience, G. S., Galli, F., Patience, P.A., & Boffito, D. C. (2019). Intellectual contributions meriting authorship: Survey results from the top cited authors across all science categories. PLOS ONE 14(1): e0198117. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198117
“Most researchers agreed with the NIH criteria and grant authorship to individuals who draft the manuscript, analyze and interpret data, and propose ideas. However, thousands of the researchers also value supervision and contributing comments to the manuscript, whereas the NIH recommends discounting these activities when attributing authorship. People value the minutiae of research beyond writing and data reduction: researchers in the humanities value it less than those in pure and applied sciences; individuals from Far East Asia and Middle East and Northern Africa value these activities more than anglophones and northern Europeans.”
🔬 Pruschak, G. (2021). What Constitutes Authorship in the Social Sciences? Front. Res. Metr. Anal., 6 https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2021.655350
“Social scientists tend to distribute research tasks among (individual) research team members. Nevertheless, they generally adhere to the universally applicable Vancouver [ICMJE] criteria when distributing authorship. More specifically, participation in every research task with the exceptions of data work as well as reviewing and remarking increases scholars’ chances to receive authorship.”
🔬 Rasmussen, L. M., Williams, C. E., Hausfeld, M. M., Banks, G. C., & Davis, B. C. (2020). Authorship Policies at U.S. Doctoral Universities: A Review and Recommendations for Future Policies. Sci Eng Ethics 26, 3393–3413. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-020-00273-7
“We found that only 24% of the 266 Carnegie R1 and R2 Universities had publicly available authorship policies. Within these policies, the majority (93%) specified criteria for authorship, but provided less guidance about actual processes for applying such criteria (62%), handling authorship disputes (62%), and managing faculty-student author teams (49%). Further, we found that any discussion of dispute resolution practices typically lacked specificity.”
💡 Thoma, A., Murphy, J., & Goldsmith, C. H. (2021). The Author Truncation “et al.” in Article References: An Anachronism That Needs to Change. Plastic Surgery. https://doi.org/10.1177/22925503211051109
“In a time of electronic publishing, where constraints such as article and journal page length should not be important factors, all authors should be recognized. The use of the “et al.” truncation should be discouraged by all individuals involved in the production and publication of research.”
🔬 Smith, E., Williams-Jones, B., Master, Z., Larivière, V., Sugimoto, C. R., Paul-Hus, A., Shi, M., Diller, E., Caudle, K., Resnik, D. B. (2020). Researchers’ Perceptions of Ethical Authorship Distribution in Collaborative Research Teams. Sci Eng Ethics 26(4):1995-2022. DOI:10.1007/s11948-019-00113-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891155/
“Results suggest that some respondents find ways to effectively manage disagreements in a collegial fashion. Conversely, others explain how distribution of authorship can become a “blood sport” or a “horror story” which can negatively affect researchers’ wellbeing, scientific productivity and integrity. Researchers fear authorship discussions and often try to avoid openly discussing the situation which can strain team interactions. Unethical conduct is more likely to result from deceit, favoritism, and questionable mentorship and may become more egregious when there is constant bullying and discrimination. Although values of collegiality, transparency and fairness were promoted by researchers, rank and need for success often overpowered ethical decision-making.”
💡 Strange, K. (2008). Authorship: why not just toss a coin? American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology 2008 295:3, C567-C575 https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00208.2008
“Of the various forms of unethical scientific conduct, I suspect that authorship abuse is the most prevalent and most tolerated. Authorship is awarded promiscuously as an expedient solution to real or perceived problems and due to outright unethical and unprofessional behavior. It is essential that as scientists we work together with our institutions, our professional organizations, and the journals we publish in to establish uniform authorship policies and practices that will minimize authorship abuse and that we train our students and fellows in the highest standards of publication ethics.”
🔬 Uijtdehaage, S., Mavis, B., & Durning, S. J. (2018). Whose Paper Is It Anyway? Authorship Criteria According to Established Scholars in Health Professions Education. Academic Medicine, 93(8): 1171-1175 https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000002144
“A surprising proportion of leaders in the [health professions education] field had encountered unethical authorship practices. Despite widely disseminated authorship criteria, the findings suggest that offering authorship to those who do not qualify, or arguably worse, excluding those who should have been included, remains a common practice.”
⭐ Wager, E. (2009). Recognition, reward and responsibility: Why the authorship of scientific papers matters. Maturitas, 62 (2): P109-112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2008.12.001
“Despite the lack of agreement, authorship of journal articles continues to be the basis for academic appointments and is used to measure the research output of departments and therefore determine future funding. Some journals have started to use contributor lists, indicating the role of each individual, in place of, or in addition to, traditional lists of authors. However, problems about the threshold of involvement that merits authorship, and the order of listing remain unresolved. Journal editors are usually unable to adjudicate on authorship disputes since detailed, local knowledge is required. Institutions might therefore play a greater role in setting and enforcing authorship policies.”
💡 Zauner, H., Nogoy, N. A., Edmunds, S. C., Zhou, H., & Goodman, L. (2018). Editorial: We need to talk about authorship. GigaScience, 7(12): giy122, https://doi.org/10.1093/gigascience/giy122
“There are many issues that underlie inappropriate authorship designations, but there are also guidelines to help potential authors determine when and how a researcher should be included with a manuscript.”
💡 Abimbola, S. (2019). The foreign gaze: authorship in academic global health. BMJ Global Health, 4:e002068. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2019-002068
Editorial on “imbalances in the authorship of academic global health publications”.
🔬 Hedt-Gauthier, B. L., Jeufack, H. M., Neufeld, N. H., Alem, A., Sauer, S., Odhiambo, J., Boum, Y., Shuchman, M., & Volmink J. (2019). Stuck in the middle: a systematic review of authorship in collaborative health research in Africa, 2014–2016. BMJ Global Health;4:e001853. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2019-001853
For health research in sub-Saharan Africa, the presence of high-income country authors, in particular the US, is associated with fewer authors from the country of study, particularly for first and last authors.
💡 Miles, S., Renedo, A., & Marston, C. (2021). Reimagining authorship guidelines to promote equity in co-produced academic collaborations. Global Public Health, https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2021.1971277
Participatory research, especially in public health in lower-income countries, often leaves out the contributions of community members: “We suggest that authorship guidelines should be adapted to encourage attribution of co-produced research to include non-academic as well as academic collaborators, and we provide a draft guideline for how this might be done.”
💡 Morton, B., Vercueil, A., Masekela, R., Heinz, E., Reimer, L., Saleh, S., Kalinga, C., Seekles, M., Biccard, B., Chakaya, J., Abimbola, S., Obasi, A. & Oriyo, N. (2022). Consensus statement on measures to promote equitable authorship in the publication of research from international partnerships. Anaesthesia, 77: 264-276. https://doi.org/10.1111/anae.15597
The authors recommend: an expectation of inclusion of local researchers in first and/or last authorship positions; removing arbitrary limits on the numbers of authors support inclusion of low- and middle-income researchers, early-career researchers, minority groups, and women; a required, structured reflexivity statement for publication, to describe how equity has been promoted in the research partnership.
💡 Sam-Agudu, N. A., & Abimbola, S. 2021. Using scientific authorship criteria as a tool for equitable inclusion in global health research. BMJ Global Health, 6:e007632. https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/10/e007632.full
“The widely adopted ICMJE authorship criteria can be used inclusively to minimise parachute research. We welcome the ‘Consensus statement on measures to promote equitable authorship of research publications from international partnerships’ [see above]. In so doing, we call on biomedical and health journals to require, along with published manuscripts, the copublication of research team ‘reflexivity’ statements, structured to highlight considerations (or lack thereof) for local [low- and middle-income country] team members’ ownership of the research, and promote inclusive authorship. However, we recognise that concerns of exclusion are also applicable to internal collaborations within [high-income countries] or LMICs.”
🔬 Akhabue, E., & Lautenbach, E. (2010). “Equal” contributions and credit: an emerging trend in the characterization of authorship. Annals of Epidemiology, 20(11), 868–871. DOI:10.1016/j.annepidem.2010.08.004 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953548/
General medical journals were increasingly including statements of equal contributions by 2009, but lacked guidance on the use of these statements.
🔬 Broderick, B. A., & Casadevall A. (2019). Meta-Research: Gender inequalities among authors who contributed equally.
See “Sex and gender”.
🔬 Resnik, D.B., Smith, E., Master, Z., Shi, M. (2020). Survey of equal contributions in biomedical research publications. Account Res., 27(3):115-137. DOI:10.1080/08989621.2020.1722947. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7065943/
“Although our respondents had some ethical concerns about [equal contribution] designations, most agreed that these are useful tools that should be permitted in scientific publication. Most of our respondents also agreed that journals, research teams, and institutions should develop policies to provide greater clarity and guidance for using EC designations appropriately.”
Gift and ghost authorship
🔬 Bates, T., Anić, A., Marušić, M., & Marušić A. (2004). Authorship Criteria and Disclosure of Contributions: Comparison of 3 General Medical Journals With Different Author Contribution Forms. JAMA, 292(1):86–88. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.292.1.86
A survey of articles in three general medical journals up to 2002 found high levels of honorary authors in Annals, fewer in the BMJ, and very few in JAMA: “Honorary authors had fewer published contributions than authors who met ICMJE criteria and were positioned more toward the end of the byline.”
🔬 Bhopal, R., Rankin, J., McColl, E., Thomas, L., Kaner, E., Stacy, R., Pearson, P., Vernon, B., & Rodgers, H. (1997). The vexed question of authorship: views of researchers in a British medical faculty. BMJ, 314:1009 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7086.1009
British medical researchers in the late 1990s wanted authorship criteria and were concerned about gift authorship, but were either unaware of or did not follow the ICMJE criteria.
💡 Bülow, W., & Helgesson, G. (2018). Hostage authorship and the problem of dirty hands. Research Ethics, 14(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016118764305
Tang, B. L. (2018). Responding to devious demands for co-authorship: A rejoinder to Bülow and Helgesson’s ‘dirty hands’ justification. Research Ethics, 14(4), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016118798876
Ranieri, V. (2019). Questionable authorship and the problem of dirty hands: throwing missing authorship into the ring. In response to both Bulow and Helgesson, and Tang. Research Ethics, 15(3–4), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016119865728
Bülow, W., & Helgesson, G. (2019). Hostage authorship and dirty hands: A reply to Tang. Research Ethics, 15(2), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016119835458)
Can including gift authors be ethical if you have a metaphorical gun to your head? Bülow and Helgesson argued that ‘hostage authors’ are excused in unwillingly adding undeserving authors to enable a greater research goal. Debate ensued.
💡 Eriksson, S., Godskesen, T., Andersson, L., & Helgesson, G. (2018). How to counter undeserving authorship. Insights, 31(1). http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.395
To limit undeserved authorship, “1) ask scholars who apply for positions to explain the basics of a random selection of their co-authored papers, and 2) in bibliometric measurements, divide publications and citations by the number of authors.”
🔬 Flanagin, A., Carey, L. A., Fontanarosa, P.B., Phillips, S. G., Pace, B. P., Lundberg, G. D., Rennie, D. (1998). Prevalence of Articles With Honorary Authors and Ghost Authors in Peer-Reviewed Medical Journals. JAMA, 280(3):222–224. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.280.3.222
Over 20% of authors publishing in medical journals in the mid-‘90s admitted that their article was affected by gift and/or ghost authorship.
🔬 Fong, E. A., & Wilhite, A. W. (2017). Authorship and citation manipulation in academic research. PLOS ONE, 12(12): e0187394. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187394
Gift authorship is most common in marketing, management, ecology, and medicine, while women and more junior researchers are under greater pressure to add undeserving authors.
🔬 Gøtzsche, P. C., Hróbjartsson A., Johansen H. K., Haahr, M. T., Altman, D. G., & Chan A-W. (2007). Ghost Authorship in Industry-Initiated Randomised Trials. PLOS Med 4(1): e19. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040019
By comparing trial protocols to published articles, 3/4 of Danish industry-sponsored clinical trials in the mid-1990s were found to have undeclared contributors, mainly statisticians.
🔬 Hoen, W.P., Walvoort, H.C., Overbeke, A. J. P. M. (1998). What Are the Factors Determining Authorship and the Order of the Authors’ Names? A Study Among Authors of the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde (Dutch Journal of Medicine). JAMA, 280(3): 217–218. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.280.3.217
1/3 of authors in a Dutch medical journal did not meet the ICMJE criteria, though many of them had done critical reading, provided the patients, approved the final version, collecting data, or contributed to patient care.
🔬 Macfarlane, B. (2017). The ethics of multiple authorship: power, performativity and the gift economy. Studies in Higher Education, 42:7, 1194-1210, https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1085009
A survey of education researchers in Hong Kong found “intellectual contribution is often overridden by considerations related to hierarchical power relations, notably in relation to research project leadership and doctoral supervision. These considerations normalize a gift economy.”
💡 Miles, S., Renedo, A., & Marston, C. (2021). Reimagining authorship guidelines to promote equity in co-produced academic collaborations. Global Public Health, https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2021.1971277
See “International collaboration”.
💡 Moffatt, B., & Elliott, C. (2007). Ghost Marketing: Pharmaceutical Companies and Ghostwritten Journal Articles. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
See “Conflicts of interest”.
⭐ Morreim, E.H., & Winer, J.C. (2021). Guest authorship as research misconduct: definitions and possible solutions. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, DOI: 10.1136/bmjebm-2021-111826 https://web.archive.org/web/20220107162257id_/https:/ebm.bmj.com/content/ebmed/early/2021/12/21/bmjebm-2021-111826.full.pdf
“1. Authors should discuss authorship at the planning stage of the project and use the Contribution Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) or similar metric when submitting the manuscript; 2. Journal editors ideally should replace authorship with a ‘contributorship’ format such as CRediT, and require a signed attestation by all authors/ contributors; 3. Institutions should replace traditional metrics for promotion with incentives that better recognise research contributions and discourage false claims of authorship; 4. Institutions and journals should follow the Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines when guest authorship is suspected.”
💡 Penders, B., & Shaw, D. M. (2020). Civil disobedience in scientific authorship: Resistance and insubordination in science. Accountability in Research, 27(6): 347-371. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2020.1756787
“Whether in the form of pseudonyms, guest authors or creative authorship attribution processes, civil disobedience in authorship serves the explicit purpose of demonstrating how many of the written and unwritten rules governing the distribution of credit and other resources in academia reinforce a long series of inequalities. … some resemble civil disobedience but are based on laziness or annoyance rather than moral outrage, and others game the system rather than attempting to expose its weaknesses.”
🔬 Pruschak, G., & Hopp, C. (2022). And the credit goes to … – Ghost and honorary authorship among social scientists. PLOS ONE 17(5): e0267312. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0267312
“Ghost and honorary authorship occur frequently here and may be driven by social scientists’ misconceptions about authorship criteria. Our results show that they frequently deviate from a common point of authorship reference (the ICMJE authorship criteria). On the one hand, they tend to award authorship more broadly to more junior scholars, while on the other hand, they may withhold authorship from senior scholars if those are engaged in collaborations with junior scholars.”
🔬 Wislar, J. S., Flanagin, A., Fontanarosa, P. B., DeAngelis, C. D. (2011). Honorary and ghost authorship in high impact biomedical journals: a cross sectional survey. BMJ, 343 :d6128 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6128
In general medical journals in 2008, “The prevalence of articles with honorary authorship or ghost authorship, or both, was 21.0% (95% CI 18.0% to 24.3%), a decrease from 29.2% reported in 1996 (P=0.004).”
💡 Bierer, B. E., Crosas, M., & Pierce, H. H. (2017). Data Authorship as an Incentive to Data Sharing. N Engl J Med, 376:1684-1687 https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsb1616595
A call for a new category, “data authorship”, to encourage data sharing by researchers.
🔬 Devriendt, T., Borry, P., Shabani, M. (2022). Credit and Recognition for Contributions to Data-Sharing Platforms Among Cohort Holders and Platform Developers in Europe: Interview Study. J Med Internet Res 24(1):e25983 https://doi.org/10.2196/25983
Interviews with data sharing platform stakeholders about how current authorship norms do not provide recognition to data generators and specialists.
💡 Brand, A., Allen, L., Altman, M., Hlava, M. & Scott, J. (2015), Beyond authorship: attribution, contribution, collaboration, and credit. Learned Publishing, 28: 151-155. https://doi.org/10.1087/20150211
On the development of the CRediT taxonomy for defining contributions to scholarly articles.
💡 Habgood-Coote, J. (2022). What’s the Point of Authors? The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. DOI: 10.1086/715539 https://philpapers.org/archive/HABWTP-2.pdf
This philosophical piece “distinguishes five roles played by authorship attributions: allocating credit, constructing a speaker, enabling credibility judgements, supporting accountability, and creating an intellectual marketplace.” They propose “replacing authorship with a bundle of roles tailored to the functions of authorship—contributor, spokesperson, writer, and guarantor”.
💡 Holcombe, A. O. (2019). Contributorship, Not Authorship: Use CRediT to Indicate Who Did What. Publications 7, 48. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7030048
The benefits of using the CRediT taxonomy to define individual contributions to an article.
🔬 Larivière, V., Desrochers, N., Macaluso, B., Mongeon, P., Paul-Hus, A., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2016). Contributorship and division of labor in knowledge production. Social Studies of Science, 46(3): 417–435. DOI :10.1177/0306312716650046 https://papyrus.bib.umontreal.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1866/23289/Contributorship-Preprint.pdf
“The results suggest a clear distinction between contributions that could be labelled as ‘technical’ and those that could be considered ‘conceptual’: While conceptual tasks are typically associated with authors with higher seniority, technical tasks are more often performed by younger scholars. Finally, results provide evidence of a u-shaped relationship between extent of contribution and author order: In all disciplines, first and last authors typically contribute to more tasks than middle authors.”
🔬 Larivière, V., Pontille, D., Sugimoto, C. R. (2021). Investigating the division of scientific labor using the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT). Quantitative Science Studies 2021; 2 (1): 111–128. https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00097
The adoption by the PLOS journals of the CRediT taxonomy reveals that “the majority of authors contribute to writing—review and editing (68%), as well as methodology (55%), investigation (53%), and conceptualization (51%).”
💡 Matarese, V., & Shashok, K. (2019). Transparent Attribution of Contributions to Research: Aligning Guidelines to Real-Life Practices. Publications, 7, 24. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7020024
“In practice, CRediT is a detailed authorship classification that risks denying appropriate credit for persons who contribute as non-authors.” They propose revisions to the CRediT taxonomy and two additions: Technical support, i.e. experimental procedures, laboratory management, animal husbandry, instrumental expertise, statistical support, clinical support, graphic work, and other skilled activities done as a non-author named in the acknowledgments; and Translating or editing the manuscript, as non-author, i.e. translation or editing of the authors’ manuscript, by a non-author translator or editor named in the acknowledgments.
💡 Smith, R. (1997). Authorship: time for a paradigm shift? BMJ. 314(7086):992. DOI:10.1136/bmj.314.7086.992 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2126440/pdf/9112837.pdf#page=6
💡 Smith, R. (1997). Authorship is dying: long live contributorship. BMJ. 315(7110):696. DOI:10.1136/bmj.315.7110.696 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2127477/pdf/9314747.pdf#page=6
In 1997, then-editor of the BMJ Richard Smith called for the overthrow of authorship and its replacement by contributorship: “In April this year we suggested that the concept of authorship in science was so broken that it should be scrapped and replaced by something different. Instead of authors there should be contributors and guarantors. Since then the debate has begun to motor. The originator of the idea of contributors—Drummond Rennie, deputy editor (west) of JAMA—has spelt out the case for change in detail. The Lancet has adopted the system. … We propose that, where the authors want it, we will publish lists of contributors and guarantors with papers describing original research. When authors choose not to do this, however, we will continue to publish lists of authors in the traditional way. … Contributors will be fully responsible for their contribution, but at least one person—the guarantor— needs to accept accountability for the whole work.”
💡 Vasilevsky, N., Hosseini, M., Teplitzky, S., Ilik, V., Mohammadi, E., Schneider, J., Kern, B., Colomb, J., Edmunds, S. C., Gutzman, K., Himmelstein, D. S., White, M., Smith, B., O’Keefe, L., Haendel, M., & Holmes, K. L. (2020). Major challenges on authorship and concept of authorship-why is something more needed on contributorship? Manubot https://data2health.github.io/contributorship/
“Recent efforts to enable better recognition of contributions to scholarship include the development of the Contributor Role Ontology (CRO), which extends the CRediT taxonomy and can be used in information systems for structuring contributions. We also introduce the Contributor Attribution Model (CAM), which provides a simple data model that relates the contributor to research objects via the role that they played, as well as the provenance of the information.”
🔬 Zhang, Z., Wang, S. D., Li, G. S., Kong, G., Gu, H., & Alfonso, F. (2019). The contributor roles for randomized controlled trials and the proposal for a novel CRediT-RCT. Ann Transl Med. 7(24):812. https://doi.org/10.21037/atm.2019.12.96
“The present study provides empirical data on the use of CRediT for RCTs, and some limitations of the taxonomy are discussed. We further propose a new CRediT-RCT which includes 10 roles.”
Sex and gender
🔬 Broderick, B. A., & Casadevall A. (2019) Meta-Research: Gender inequalities among authors who contributed equally. eLife 8:e36399 https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.36399
Some equal authors are more equal than others – especially if they’re male. An assessment of the equal first authors of nearly 3,000 articles finds that men tend to appear first more often than do women, taking into account alphabetical ordering.
🔬 Dung, S. K., López, A., Lopez Barragan, E., Reyes, R.-J., Thu, R., Castellanos, E., Catalan, F., Huerta-Sánchez, E., & Rohlfs, R. V. (2019). Illuminating Women’s Hidden Contribution to Historical Theoretical Population Genetics. Genetics, 211(2):363–366. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.118.301277
Acknowledgements rather than authorship obscured the contributions of women to population genetics in the 1970s.
🔬 Fox, C. W., Ritchey, J. P., & Paine, C. E. T. (2018). Patterns of authorship in ecology and evolution: First, last, and corresponding authorship vary with gender and geography. Ecol Evol., 8: 11492 https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4584
Women were less likely to be last author, corresponding author, or a sole author in ecology articles, but were more likely to be first author. Senior male authors had fewer female co-authors and all-male authorship was more common than expected.
🔬 Macaluso, B., Larivière, V., Sugimoto, T., & Sugimoto, C. (2016). PhD Is Science Built on the Shoulders of Women? A Study of Gender Differences in Contributorship. Academic Medicine, 91(8): 1136-1142 https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000001261
“Women were significantly more likely to be associated with performing experiments, and men were more likely to be associated with all other authorship roles. This holds true controlling for academic age: Although experimentation was associated with academically younger scholars, the gap between male and female contribution to this task remained constant across academic age.”
🔬 Ni, C., Smith, E., Yuan, H., Larivière, V., & Sugimoto, C.R. (2021). The gendered nature of authorship. Sci Adv. 7(36):eabe4639. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe4639
“Controlling for discipline and academic status, women are more likely than men to encounter author naming disputes … and more likely than men to have disagreements in how authors were ordered … . In addition, women are more likely than men to express disappointment in their colleagues’ failure to acknowledge their contributions … . Gender differences in disagreements were most extreme in the natural sciences and engineering, where women account for the lowest proportion of researchers. … Acknowledgment of these gendered differences and increased dialogue in the distribution of authorship may serve to mitigate potential disputes within research teams. Individual PIs should reconsider their own practices and engage in wider communication about authorship within their laboratories.”
🔬 Paul-Hus, A., et al. (2020). Who are the acknowledgees? An analysis of gender and academic status. Quantitative Science Studies
🔬 West, J. D., Jacquet, J., King, M. M., Correll, S. J., & Bergstrom, C. T. (2013). The Role of Gender in Scholarly Authorship. PLOS ONE 8(7): e66212. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066212
“Even where raw publication counts seem to be equal between genders, close inspection reveals that, in certain fields, men predominate in the prestigious first and last author positions. Moreover, women are significantly underrepresented as authors of single-authored papers.”
💡 Carey, T. A. (2021). Acknowledgments in publications and research integrity: who gets acknowledged, what for, and do they know? JBI Evidence Synthesis, 19(12): 3207-3208 https://doi.org/10.11124/JBIES-21-00412
The problem of unwelcome or unwarranted acknowledgments.
🔬 Díaz-Faes, A., & Bordons, M. (2017). Making visible the invisible through the analysis of acknowledgements in the humanities. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (5): 576-590. DOI: 10.1108/AJIM-01-2017-0008. https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1706/1706.06334.pdf
Acknowledgments as “super‐citations” in the humanities, where the single-author article is still the norm.
🔬 Dung, S. K. et al. (2019). Illuminating Women’s Hidden Contribution to Historical Theoretical Population Genetics.
See “Sex and gender”.
💡 Helgesson, G., Master, Z. & Bülow, W. (2021). How to Handle Co-authorship When Not Everyone’s Research Contributions Make It into the Paper. Sci Eng Ethics 27, 27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-021-00303-y
What happens when someone is involved in a research project but their specific contributions are ‘left on the cutting room floor’ and don’t make it into the final article?
⭐ Hesp, B. R., & Scandlyn, M. (2020). Ethical challenges in acknowledging professional writing support. Medical Writing, 29(3): 60-62 https://journal.emwa.org/eu-regulations/ethical-challenges-in-acknowledging-professional-writing-support/
“We propose personally acknowledging any professional medical writer who makes a substantial contribution to the outline or full first draft of a publication or who provides a substantial intellectual contribution to publication development.”
💡 Koljatic, M. (2021). Unconsented acknowledgments as a form of authorship abuse: What can be done about it? Research Ethics, 17(2), 127–134. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016120952516
The problems caused by acknowledging someone without their agreement.
🔬 Paul-Hus, A., Díaz-Faes, A.A., Sainte-Marie, M., Desrochers, N., Costas, R., & Larivière, V. (2017). Beyond funding: Acknowledgement patterns in biomedical, natural and social sciences. PLOS ONE 12(10): e0185578. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185578
“Our analysis shows that technical support is more frequently acknowledged by scholars in Chemistry, Physics and Engineering. Earth and Space, Professional Fields, and Social Sciences are more likely to acknowledge contributions from colleagues, editors, and reviewers, while Biology acknowledgments put more emphasis on logistics and fieldwork-related tasks. Conflicts of interest disclosures (or lack of thereof) are more frequently found in acknowledgments from Clinical Medicine, Health and, to a lesser extent, Psychology.”
🔬 Paul-Hus, A., Mongeon, P., Sainte-Marie, M., & Larivière, V. (2017). The sum of it all: Revealing collaboration patterns by combining authorship and acknowledgements. Journal of Informetrics, 11(1): 80-87. DOI: 10.1016/j.joi.2016.11.005. https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1611/1611.08550.pdf
“Important differences traditionally observed between disciplines in terms of team size are greatly reduced when acknowledgees are taken into account.”
🔬 Paul-Hus, A., Mongeon, P., Sainte-Marie, M., & Larivière, V. (2020). Who are the acknowledgees? An analysis of gender and academic status. Quantitative Science Studies 1 (2): 582–598. https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00036
“Women are even more underrepresented in acknowledgements section than in authors’ lists [and] women acknowledge proportionally more women than men do. … Acknowledgees who have already published tend to have a higher position in the academic hierarchy compared with all Web of Science (WoS) authors.”
💡 Räsänen, J., & Louhiala, P. (2021). Should Acknowledgments in Published Academic Articles Include Gratitude for Reviewers Who Reviewed for Journals that Rejected Those Articles? Theoria, 87: 713-728. https://doi.org/10.1111/theo.12310
“We argue that when an author’s work is published, the author should thank the reviewers whose comments improved the paper regardless of whether those reviewers’ journals rejected or accepted the work. That is because scholars should show gratitude to those who deserve it, and those whose comments improved the paper deserve gratitude.”
💡 Banerjee, T., Partin, K., & Resnik, D. B. (2022). Authorship Issues When Articles are Retracted Due to Research Misconduct and Then Resubmitted. Sci Eng Ethics, 28(4):31. DOI:10.1007/s11948-022-00386-1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9367628/
💡 Faulkes, Z. (2018). Resolving authorship disputes by mediation and arbitration. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 3(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-018-0057-z
Master, Z., Tenenbaum, E. (2019). The advantages of peer review over arbitration for resolving authorship disputes. Res Integr Peer Rev, 4: 10 https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-019-0071-9)
How arbitration or mediation facilitated by independent bodies could help publishers and institutions to resolve authorship disputes.
⭐ Fine, M. A., & Kurdek, L. A. (1993). Reflections on determining authorship credit and authorship order on faculty-student collaborations. American Psychologist, 48(11), 1141–1147. DOI:10.1037/0003-066X.48.11.1141 https://www.apa.org/research/responsible/reflections-authorship.pdf
Four authorship case studies in collaborations between senior researchers and students. Have standards changed since the early ‘90s?
🔬 Herz, N., Dan, O., Censor, N., Bar-Haim, Y. (2020). Authors overestimate their contribution to scientific work, demonstrating a strong bias. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 117(12):6282-6285. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2003500117
Herschlag, D. The individual and the team in collaborative science. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 117(28):16116. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2006671117
Herz, N., Dan, O., Censor, N., Bar-Haim, Y. (2020) Reply to Herschlag: Enhancing integrative science by acknowledging our biases. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 117(28):16117. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2009232117)
Researchers usually over-estimate their relative contributions to a research project.
🔬 Smith, E., Williams-Jones, B., Master, Z., Larivière, V., Sugimoto, C. R., Paul-Hus, A., Shi, M., & Resnik, D. B. (2020). Misconduct and Misbehavior Related to Authorship Disagreements in Collaborative Science. Sci Eng Ethics 26, 1967–1993. DOI: 10.1007/s11948-019-00112-4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6888995/
“Of the 6,673 who completed the main questions pertaining to authorship disagreement and misbehavior, nearly half (46.6%) reported disagreements regarding authorship naming; and discipline, rank, and gender had significant effects on disagreement rates. Paradoxically, researchers in multidisciplinary teams that typically reflect a range of norms and values, were less likely to have faced disagreements regarding authorship.”
🔬 Wilcox, L. J. (1998). Authorship: The Coin of the Realm, The Source of Complaints. JAMA, 280(3):216–217. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.280.3.216
Already by the late 1990s, authorship disputes were increasing at a US university and disproportionately involved women and non-US citizens.
📰 Woolston, C. (2002). When a Mentor Becomes a Thief. Science, DOI:10.1126/article.65901 https://www.science.org/content/article/when-mentor-becomes-thief
“While most junior scientists accept academic theft as a way of life, a few decide to make noise.”
⭐ Cronin, B., Shaw, D., & La Barre, K. (2003). A cast of thousands: Coauthorship and subauthorship collaboration in the 20th century as manifested in the scholarly journal literature of psychology and philosophy. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 54: 855-871. DOI: 10.1002/asi.10278 https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/13386/CastofThousands.pdf
The growth of hyperauthorship.
📰 Greene, M. (2007). The demise of the lone author. Nature 450, 1165. https://doi.org/10.1038/4501165a
Sole authors were rare by the mid-2000s.
⭐ Hosseini, M., Lewis, J., Zwart, H., & Gordijn, B. (2022). An Ethical Exploration of Increased Average Number of Authors Per Publication. Sci Eng Ethics 28: 25. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-021-00352-3
The rise in authorship numbers may disproportionately harm junior researchers and devalue authorship. This may be countered by using CRediT, the ICMJE criteria, and reforming academic assessment.
📰 Ioannidis, J. P. A., Klavans, R., & Boyack, K. W. (2018). Thousands of scientists publish a paper every five days. Nature, 561(7722):167-169. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-06185-8
Response in: Davey Smith, G., Munafò, M., &, Kivimäki, M. (2018). Swap outdated authorship listings for contributorship credit. Nature, 561(7724), 464. DOI:10.1038/d41586-018-06815-1 https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/176532810/Correspondence_Nature_FINAL_002_.pdf
There are thousands of hyperprolific authors.
⭐ Moris, D. (2020). Highly prolific authors in medical science: From charisma to opportunism. Journal of B.U.ON., 25. 2136-2140. https://jbuon.com/archive/25-4-2136.pdf
Hyperprolific authors “might reflect extraordinary skills, great teamwork or even charisma” – but they should be subject to scrutiny.
🔬 Wren, J.D., Kozak, K.Z., Johnson, K.R., Deakyne, S.J., Schilling, L.M. and Dellavalle, R.P. (2007). The write position: A survey of perceived contributions to papers based on byline position and number of authors. EMBO Reports, 8: 988-991. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.embor.7401095
“We conducted a survey of promotion and tenure committee chairpeople to assess their perceptions of author contributions based on an author’s byline position and the total number of authors on a paper; and how such perceptions might have an impact on the decisions they make.”
💡 Cham, J. (2005). Author List. PhD Comics, 562 http://phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=562
📰 Dance, A. (2012). Authorship: Who’s on first? Nature 489, 591–593. https://doi.org/10.1038/nj7417-591a
Interviews with academics about author order disputes and decisions.
⭐ Helgesson, G., & Eriksson, S. (2019). Authorship order. Learned Publishing, 32: 106-112. https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1191
Although authorship order is seen as important, there is no consensus as to its meaning or how it should be determined.
🔬 Joanis, S. T., Patil, V. H. (2021). Alphabetical ordering of author surnames in academic publishing: A detriment to teamwork. PLOS ONE 16(5): e0251176. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0251176
The use of alphabetical order for authorship in business journals seems to suppress teamwork by discouraging longer author lists.
🔬 Larivière, V., Desrochers, N., Macaluso, B., Mongeon, P., Paul-Hus, A., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2016). Contributorship and division of labor in knowledge production. Social Studies of Science.
💡 Debraj, R.,ⓡ & Robson, A. (2018). Certified Random: A New Order for Coauthorship. American Economic Review, 108 (2): 489-520. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20161492
Arguing that alphabetical author order – the norm in economics – is harmful, the authors advocate for random authorship order as indicated by the symbol ⓡ.
💡 Smith, E., & Master, Z. (2017). Best Practice to Order Authors in Multi/Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Research Publications. Accountability in Research, 24(4): 243-267, DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2017.1287567 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Elise-Smith-11/publication/313017216_Best_Practice_to_Order_Authors_in_MultiInterdisciplinary_Health_Sciences_Research_Publications/links/5c50b561299bf12be3ebade7/Best-Practice-to-Order-Authors-in-Multi-Interdisciplinary-Health-Sciences-Research-Publications.pdf
Steps to determine contributorship and authorship order in multi/interdisciplinary research: 1. Outline Roles; 2. Determine Authorship Order; 3. Continuous Dialogue; 4. Final Decision on Contributorship and Authorship Order; 5. Draft a Declaration on Contributorship and Authorship Order.
💡 Tscharntke, T., Hochberg, M. E., Rand, T. A., Resh, V. H., & Krauss, J. (2007). Author Sequence and Credit for Contributions in Multiauthored Publications. PLOS Biol 5(1): e18. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050018
Codifying the different meanings of author order: “1) The “sequence-determines-credit” approach (SDC). The sequence of authors should reflect the declining importance of their contribution …; 2) The “equal contribution” norm (EC). Authors use alphabetical sequence to acknowledge similar contributions or to avoid disharmony in collaborating groups …; 3) The “first-last-author-emphasis” norm (FLAE). In many labs, the great importance of last authorship is well established. …; 4) The “percent-contribution-indicated” approach (PCI). There is a trend to detail each author’s contribution …”
🔬 Waltman, L. (2012). An empirical analysis of the use of alphabetical authorship in scientific publishing. Journal of Informetrics, 6(4), 700-711 DOI:10.1016/j.joi.2012.07.008 https://arxiv.org/abs/1206.4863
“We find that the use of alphabetical authorship is declining over time. In 2011, the authors of less than 4% of all publications intentionally chose to list their names alphabetically. The use of alphabetical authorship is most common in mathematics, economics (including finance), and high energy physics.”
🔬 Weber, M. (2018). The Effects of Listing Authors in Alphabetical Order: A Review of the Empirical Evidence. Research Evaluation, 27(3), 238–245. DOI:10.1093/reseval/rvy008 https://ssrn.com/abstract=2803164
“It has been argued that (1) this alphabetical norm gives an unfair advantage to researchers with last name initials early in the alphabet and that (2) researchers are aware of this ‘alphabetical discrimination’ and react strategically to it, for example by avoiding collaborations with multiple authors. This article reviews the empirical literature and finds convincing evidence that alphabetical discrimination exists and that researchers react to it.”
🔬 Wohlrabe, K., & Bornmann, L. (2022). Alphabetized co-authorship in economics reconsidered. Scientometrics 127, 2173–2193. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-022-04322-9
“We demonstrate first that the alphabetization rate in economics has declined over the last decade. Second, we find no statistically significant relationship between alphabetized co-authorship and citations in economics … We find some evidence that alphabetization in case of two authors increases citations rates for very high-impact journals. Third, we show that the likelihood of non-alphabetized co-authorship increases the more authors an article has.”
🔬Wren, J.D. et al. (2007). The write position: A survey of perceived contributions to papers based on byline position and number of authors. EMBO Reports
See “Author number”.
Conflicts of interest
💡 Matheson, A. (2016). The ICMJE Recommendations and pharmaceutical marketing – strengths, weaknesses and the unsolved problem of attribution in publication ethics. BMC Med Ethics 17:20. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-016-0103-7
“The ICMJE requires detailed author interest disclosures, but overlooks the interests of non-authors and companies, and does not recommend that interests most salient to the publication are highlighted. Together, these weaknesses facilitate “advocacy”-based marketing, in which literature planned, financed and produced by companies is fronted by academics, enabling commercial messages to be presented to customers by their respected clinical peers rather than companies themselves.”
🔬 Gøtzsche, P. C., et al. (2007). Ghost Authorship in Industry-Initiated Randomised Trials. PLOS Med
See “Gift and ghost authorship”.
🔬 Marušic, A., et al. (2014). Five-step authorship framework to improve transparency in disclosing contributors to industry-sponsored clinical trial publications. BMC Medicine
💡 Moffatt, B., & Elliott, C. (2007). Ghost Marketing: Pharmaceutical Companies and Ghostwritten Journal Articles. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 50(1), 18-31. DOI:10.1353/pbm.2007.0009. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Carl-Elliott/publication/6543844_Ghost_Marketing_Pharmaceutical_Companies_and_Ghostwritten_Journal_Articles/links/57274dbc08aee491cb413fae/Ghost-Marketing-Pharmaceutical-Companies-and-Ghostwritten-Journal-Articles.pdf
“We focus on the type of ghostwriting that involves a pharmaceutical company hiring a medical education and communications company to write a paper favorable of their product, who then hires a well-known academic to publish it under his or her name without disclosing the paper’s true origins. We argue that this practice is harmful both to the public and to the institutions of science and that it is not justified by an analogy to accepted scientific authorship practices.”
⭐ Hesp, B. R., & Scandlyn, M. (2020). Ethical challenges in acknowledging professional writing support. Medical Writing
💡 Stocks, A., Simcoe, D., Toroser, D., & DeTora, L. (2018). Substantial contribution and accountability: best authorship practices for medical writers in biomedical publications. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 34 (6): 1163-1168, https://doi.org/10.1080/03007995.2018.1451832
“This distinction between contributor and author seems reasonable but is often difficult to determine. We have thus provided suggestions on what kind of substantial contribution by a professional medical writer would qualify them for authorship, which could be considered when describing the contribution made by the medical writer in the manuscript.”
Last revised August 2022.
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