Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub,
MD, Senior Editor.
To the Editor: The study by Dr Bates and colleagues1 shows that the disclosure of authors’ contributions
has improved but not solved the problem of honorary authorship. The practice
of including undeserved authors is not easy to eradicate because it provides
some benefits and, remarkably, does so without detrimental consequences to
the real authors. Bibliometric analysis may transfer the impact factor of
a journal to its articles, and ultimately to the articles’ authors.
This seems reasonable for single-author articles, but is difficult to justify
for multiauthored articles. An article published in a journal with an impact
factor of 15 could provide 15 points for its authorship if there is a sole
author, but 150 points if there are 10 authors. This unfair system encourages
authorship inflation and, at the same time, may put honest authors at a disadvantage
in academic competition.
Gomez-Alonso J. Author! Author!. JAMA. 2004;292(15):1815-1816. doi:10.1001/jama.292.15.1815-a