Is It Time to Quit Honorary Authorship?

"Typewriter," by Simon Child from The Noun Project, CC BY 3.0

Typewriter,” by Simon Child from The Noun Project, CC BY 3.0

A coworker recently sent along an interesting editorial from Science written by Philip Greenland, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University (and the former editor of Archives of Internal Medicine) and Phil B. Fontanarosa, executive editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, who argue that “honorary authorship must no longer be tolerated.”

Although Greenland & Fontanarosa distinguish between “coercive authorship” and “gift authorship” – senior staff members imposing on publications and tacking on a well-known name to increase the chance of publication/prestige, respectively – they argue that both behaviors exhibit “fraudulent aspects.” Washington University in St. Louis has actually labeled both types as research misconduct and specifically defined what constitutes each type of honorary authorship.

While some institutions are taking initiatives (Harvard, for example, actually has a workshop developed already on “contributorship” and scholarly attribution), overcoming honorary authorship will have to be a collaboration – harnessing the effort of academic institutions, research scientists, publishers, and funders.

One thought on “Is It Time to Quit Honorary Authorship?

  1. Pingback: Scientists’ Misconduct Around the Globe | Talesfromthelou's Blog

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