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Concept: Author


 To examine changes in representation of women among first authors of original research published in high impact general medical journals from 1994 to 2014 and investigate differences between journals.

Concepts: Scientific method, Observational study, Academic publishing, Research, Woman, Author


Gender disparities appear to be decreasing in academia according to a number of metrics, such as grant funding, hiring, acceptance at scholarly journals, and productivity, and it might be tempting to think that gender inequity will soon be a problem of the past. However, a large-scale analysis based on over eight million papers across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities reveals a number of understated and persistent ways in which gender inequities remain. For instance, 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. Academics should be aware of the subtle ways that gender disparities can occur in scholarly authorship.

Concepts: Mathematics, Science, Academia, Gender role, Social sciences, Humanities, Natural science, Author


In keeping with the growing movement in scientific publishing toward transparency in data and methods, we propose changes to journal authorship policies and procedures to provide insight into which author is responsible for which contributions, better assurance that the list is complete, and clearly articulated standards to justify earning authorship credit. To accomplish these goals, we recommend that journals adopt common and transparent standards for authorship, outline responsibilities for corresponding authors, adopt the Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT) ( methodology for attributing contributions, include this information in article metadata, and require authors to use the ORCID persistent digital identifier ( Additionally, we recommend that universities and research institutions articulate expectations about author roles and responsibilities to provide a point of common understanding for discussion of authorship across research teams. Furthermore, we propose that funding agencies adopt the ORCID identifier and accept the CRediT taxonomy. We encourage scientific societies to further authorship transparency by signing on to these recommendations and promoting them through their meetings and publications programs.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Science, Publishing, Writer, Author, Scientific literature, Technical communication, Ghostwriter


Most scientific research is performed by teams, and for a long time, observers have inferred individual team members' contributions by interpreting author order on published articles. In response to increasing concerns about this approach, journals are adopting policies that require the disclosure of individual authors' contributions. However, it is not clear whether and how these disclosures improve upon the conventional approach. Moreover, there is little evidence on how contribution statements are written and how they are used by readers. We begin to address these questions in two studies. Guided by a conceptual model, Study 1 examines the relationship between author order and contribution statements on more than 12,000 articles to understand what information is provided by each. This analysis quantifies the risk of error when inferring contributions from author order and shows how this risk increases with team size and for certain types of authors. At the same time, the analysis suggests that some components of the value of contributions are reflected in author order but not in currently used contribution statements. Complementing the bibliometric analysis, Study 2 analyzes survey data from more than 6000 corresponding authors to examine how contribution statements are written and used. This analysis highlights important differences between fields and between senior versus junior scientists, as well as strongly diverging views about the benefits and limitations of contribution statements. On the basis of both studies, we highlight important avenues for future research and consider implications for a broad range of stakeholders.

Concepts: Scientific method, Logic, Reasoning, Writer, Contributions, Team, Author, Ghostwriter


Introduction. Researchers' productivity is usually measured in terms of their publication output. A minimum number of publications is required for some medical qualifications and professional appointments. However, authoring an unfeasibly large number of publications might indicate disregard of authorship criteria or even fraud. We therefore examined publication patterns of highly prolific authors in 4 medical specialties. Methods. We analysed Medline publications from 2008-12 using bespoke software to disambiguate individual authors focusing on 4 discrete topics (to further reduce the risk of combining publications from authors with the same name and affiliation). This enabled us to assess the number and type of publications per author per year. Results. While 99% of authors were listed on fewer than 20 publications in the 5-year period, 24 authors in the chosen areas were listed on at least 25 publications in a single year (i.e., >1 publication per 10 working days). Types of publication by the prolific authors varied but included substantial numbers of original research papers (not simply editorials or letters). Conclusions. Institutions and funders should be alert to unfeasibly prolific authors when measuring and creating incentives for researcher productivity.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Research, Publishing, Writer, Newspaper, Author, Publication


Scientific articles are retracted at increasing rates, with the highest rates among top journals. Here we show that a single retraction triggers citation losses through an author’s prior body of work. Compared to closely-matched control papers, citations fall by an average of 6.9% per year for each prior publication. These chain reactions are sustained on authors' papers (a) published up to a decade earlier and (b) connected within the authors' own citation network by up to 4 degrees of separation from the retracted publication. Importantly, however, citation losses among prior work disappear when authors self-report the error. Our analyses and results span the range of scientific disciplines.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, International Phonetic Alphabet, Author, Citation, Scientific literature, Retraction


Authorship is a central element of scientific research carrying a variety of rewards and responsibilities, and while various guidelines exist, actual author contributions are often ambiguous. Inconsistent or limited contributions threaten to devalue authorship as intellectual currency and diminish authors' responsibility for published content. Researchers have assessed author contributions in the medical literature and other research fields, but similar data for the field of ecological research are lacking. Authorship practices in ecological research are broadly representative of a variety of fields due to the cross-disciplinary nature of collaborations in ecological studies. To better understand author contributions to current research, we distributed a survey regarding co-author contributions to a random selection of 996 lead authors of manuscripts published in ecological journals in 2010. We obtained useable responses from 45% of surveyed authors. Reported lead author contributions in ecological research studies consistently included conception of the project idea, data collection, analysis, and writing. Middle and last author contributions instead showed a high level of individual variability. Lead authorship in ecology is well defined while secondary authorship is more ambiguous. Nearly half (48%) of all studies included in our survey had some level of non-compliance with Ecological Society of America (ESA) authorship guidelines and the majority of studies (78%) contained at least one co-author that did not meet International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) requirements. Incidence of non-compliance varied with lead author occupation and author position. The probability of a study including an author that was non-compliant with ESA guidelines was lowest for professor-led studies and highest for graduate student and post doctoral researcher-led studies. Among studies with > two co-authors, all lead authors met ESA guidelines and only 2% failed to meet ICMJE requirements. Middle (24% ESA, 63% ICMJE) and last (37% ESA, 60% ICMJE) authors had higher rates of non-compliance. The probability of a study containing a co-author that did not meet ESA or ICMJE requirements increased significantly with the number of co-authors per study although even studies with only two co-authors had a high probability of non-compliance of approximately 60% (ICMJE) and 15 to 40% (ESA). Given the variable and often limited contributions of authors in our survey and past studies of other research disciplines, institutions, journals, and scientific societies need to implement new approaches to instill meaning in authorship status. A byline approach may not alter author contributions but would better define individual contributions and reduce existing ambiguity regarding the meaning of authorship in modern ecological research.

Concepts: Meaning of life, Author


It is often argued that female researchers publish on average less than male researchers do, but male and female authored papers have an equal impact. In this paper we try to better understand this phenomenon by (i) comparing the share of male and female researchers within different productivity classes, and (ii) by comparing productivity whereas controlling for a series of relevant covariates. The study is based on a disambiguated Swedish author dataset, consisting of 47,000 researchers and their WoS-publications during the period of 2008-2011 with citations until 2015. As the analysis shows, in order to have impact quantity does make a difference for male and female researchers alike-but women are vastly underrepresented in the group of most productive researchers. We discuss and test several possible explanations of this finding, using a data on personal characteristics from several Swedish universities. Gender differences in age, authorship position, and academic rank do explain quite a part of the productivity differences.

Concepts: Male, Female, Sexual dimorphism, Gender, Sex, Academia, Writer, Author


Participants in medical forums often reveal personal health information about themselves in their online postings. To feel comfortable revealing sensitive personal health information, some participants may hide their identity by posting anonymously. They can do this by using fake identities, nicknames, or pseudonyms that cannot readily be traced back to them. However, individual writing styles have unique features and it may be possible to determine the true identity of an anonymous user through author attribution analysis. Although there has been previous work on the authorship attribution problem, there has been a dearth of research on automated authorship attribution on medical forums. The focus of the paper is to demonstrate that character-based author attribution works better than word-based methods in medical forums.

Concepts: Health care, English-language films, Writing, Focus, Writer, Identity, Author, Anonymous


Various financial and non-financial conflicts of interests have been shown to influence the reporting of research findings, particularly in clinical medicine. In this study, we examine whether this extends to prognostic instruments designed to assess violence risk. Such instruments have increasingly become a routine part of clinical practice in mental health and criminal justice settings. The present meta-analysis investigated whether an authorship effect exists in the violence risk assessment literature by comparing predictive accuracy outcomes in studies where the individuals who designed these instruments were study authors with independent investigations. A systematic search from 1966 to 2011 was conducted using PsycINFO, EMBASE, MEDLINE, and US National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts to identify predictive validity studies for the nine most commonly used risk assessment tools. Tabular data from 83 studies comprising 104 samples was collected, information on two-thirds of which was received directly from study authors for the review. Random effects subgroup analysis and metaregression were used to explore evidence of an authorship effect. We found a substantial and statistically significant authorship effect. Overall, studies authored by tool designers reported predictive validity findings around two times higher those of investigations reported by independent authors (DOR = 6.22 [95% CI = 4.68-8.26] in designers' studies vs. DOR = 3.08 [95% CI = 2.45-3.88] in independent studies). As there was evidence of an authorship effect, we also examined disclosure rates. None of the 25 studies where tool designers or translators were also study authors published a conflict of interest statement to that effect, despite a number of journals requiring that potential conflicts be disclosed. The field of risk assessment would benefit from routine disclosure and registration of research studies. The extent to which similar conflict of interests exists in those developing risk assessment guidelines and providing expert testimony needs clarification.

Concepts: Evaluation, Statistical significance, Psychometrics, Effect size, Meta-analysis, Risk assessment, Writer, Author