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Authorship problems in scholarly journals: considerations for authors, peer reviewers and editors


Authorship problems in scholarly journals shake the foundations of research, diminish scientific quality of papers and devalue records of citation tracking services. The ‘Publish or Perish’ mantra is thought to drive some instances of unfair, honorary authorship, particularly in countries of emerging scientific power. Though causes of honorary, gift, guest and ghost authorship are still ill-defined, it is possible to avoid some of these instances by improving awareness of what constitutes authorship and by adhering to the editorial policies of learned associations. This paper overviews common cases of inappropriate authorship and suggests options to solve related problems by authors, reviewers and editors of scholarly journals.

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The points presented in the paper were discussed at a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) rheumatology research meeting at the Clinical Education Centre of the Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley Group NHS Trust (A Teaching Trust of University of Birmingham), Dudley, UK. The authors thank all participants of the meeting for their comments. AYG and GDK thank the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, UK for support during the writing the paper.

Conflict of interest

AYG is a sponsored member of the European Association of Science Editors and member of the World Association of Medical Editors. He also serves as the chief editor of European Science Editing and editorial advisory board member and reviewer of more than 20 rheumatological, cardiological and general medical journals. LA declares no conflict of interest. GDK is editorial board member of 5 international journals and reviewer for more than 30 international journals and research funding bodies.

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Correspondence to Armen Yuri Gasparyan.

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Gasparyan, A.Y., Ayvazyan, L. & Kitas, G.D. Authorship problems in scholarly journals: considerations for authors, peer reviewers and editors. Rheumatol Int 33, 277–284 (2013).

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  • Authorship
  • Editorial policies
  • Periodicals as topic
  • Research standards