Barry’s Blog #9

Authorship: How many is too many?

Ana Marusic is a frequent contributor to WAME discussions and one topic that crops often crops up is authorship, and specifically, are there times when many authors are justified. After a systematic review, it appears the answer depends entirely on the discipline.  In the Introduction to this report, Marusic and colleagues note that recently  PubMed indexed a a paper with 2080 authors  – a new record. The paper was from high-energy physics thus perhaps not a surprise to physicists or clinical trialists.  Conversely they noted that researchers in many social sciences are expected to be sole authors, Of the 123 articles reviewed (mostly biomedical, health research and social sciences) authorship misuse was reported more often outside of the USA and UK and the concern was that this may ‘have a severe impact on the integrity of the research process’.

Comment: Contributors to IP should NOT follow the physics example; we don’t have enough space to list 2000 authors. Seriously, criteria for authorship are well spelled out and should be followed.

Citation: 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. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023477

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