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Concept: Ghostwriter


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


We have generated a list of highly influential biomedical researchers based on Scopus citation data from the period 1996-2011. Of the 15,153,100 author identifiers in Scopus, approximately 1% (n=149,655) have an h-index >=20. Of those, we selected 532 authors who belonged to the 400 with highest total citation count (>=25,142 citations) and/or the 400 with highest h-index (>=76). Of those, we selected the top-400 living core biomedical researchers based on a normalized score combining total citations and h-index. Another 62 authors whose focus is outside biomedicine had a normalized score that was at least as high as the score of the 400th core biomedical researcher. We provide information on the profile of these most influential authors, including the most common Medical Subject Heading terms in their articles that are also specific to their work, most common journals where they publish, number of papers with over 100 citations that they have published as first/single, last, or middle authors, and impact score adjusted for authorship positions, given that crude citation indices and authorship positions are almost totally orthogonal. We also show for each researcher the distribution of their papers across 4 main levels (basic-to-applied) of research. We discuss technical issues, limitations and caveats, comparisons against other lists of highly-cited researchers, and potential uses of this resource.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Research, Writer, Author, Bibliometrics, Ghostwriter, Citation impact


The author shares twelve practical tips on how to navigate the process of getting a manuscript published. These tips, which apply to all fields of academic writing, advise that during the initial preparation phase authors should: (1) plan early to get it out the door; (2) address authorship and writing group expectations up front; (3) maintain control of the writing; (4) ensure complete reporting; (5) use electronic reference management software; (6) polish carefully before they submit; (7) select the right journal; and (8) follow journal instructions precisely. Rejection after the first submission is likely, and when this occurs authors should (9) get it back out the door quickly, but first (10) take seriously all reviewer and editor suggestions. Finally, when the invitation comes to revise and resubmit, authors should (11) respond carefully to every reviewer suggestion, even if they disagree, and (12) get input from others as they revise. The author also shares detailed suggestions on the creation of effective tables and figures, and on how to respond to reviewer critiques.

Concepts: Academia, Writing, Publishing, Suggestion, Writer, Author, Ghostwriter, Writing occupations


Contemporary biomedical research is performed by increasingly large teams. Consequently, an increasingly large number of individuals are being listed as authors in the bylines, which complicates the proper attribution of credit and responsibility to individual authors. Typically, more importance is given to the first and last authors, while it is assumed that the others (the middle authors) have made smaller contributions. However, this may not properly reflect the actual division of labor because some authors other than the first and last may have made major contributions. In practice, research teams may differentiate the main contributors from the rest by using partial alphabetical authorship (i.e., by listing middle authors alphabetically, while maintaining a contribution-based order for more substantial contributions). In this paper, we use partial alphabetical authorship to divide the authors of all biomedical articles in the Web of Science published over the 1980-2015 period in three groups: primary authors, middle authors, and supervisory authors. We operationalize the concept of middle author as those who are listed in alphabetical order in the middle of an authors' list. Primary and supervisory authors are those listed before and after the alphabetical sequence, respectively. We show that alphabetical ordering of middle authors is frequent in biomedical research, and that the prevalence of this practice is positively correlated with the number of authors in the bylines. We also find that, for articles with 7 or more authors, the average proportion of primary, middle and supervisory authors is independent of the team size, more than half of the authors being middle authors. This suggests that growth in authors lists are not due to an increase in secondary contributions (or middle authors) but, rather, in equivalent increases of all types of roles and contributions (including many primary authors and many supervisory authors). Nevertheless, we show that the relative contribution of alphabetically ordered middle authors to the overall production of knowledge in the biomedical field has greatly increased over the last 35 years.

Concepts: Medical research, Secondary school, Writer, Contributions, Team, Author, Ghostwriter, Collation


The detection of plagiarism in scholarly articles is a complex process. It requires not just quantitative analysis with the similarity recording by anti-plagiarism software but also assessment of the readers' opinion, pointing to the theft of ideas, methodologies, and graphics. In this article we describe a blatant case of plagiarism by Chinese authors, who copied a Russian article from a non-indexed and not widely visible Russian journal, and published their own report in English in an open-access journal indexed by Scopus and Web of Science and archived in PubMed Central. The details of copying in the translated English article were presented by the Russian author to the chief editor of the index journal, consultants from Scopus, anti-plagiarism experts, and the administrator of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The correspondents from Scopus and COPE pointed to the decisive role of the editors' of the English journal who may consider further actions if plagiarism is confirmed. After all, the chief editor of the English journal retracted the article on grounds of plagiarism and published a retraction note, although no details of the complexity of the case were reported. The case points to the need for combining anti-plagiarism efforts and actively seeking opinion of non-native English-speaking authors and readers who may spot intellectual theft which is not always detected by software.

Concepts: Scientific method, English language, Point, Open access, Editors, Scientific misconduct, Ghostwriter, Plagiarism


High-quality scientific literature is the cornerstone of scientific progress and is highly regarded by academia. However, scientific literature is often marred by plagiarism, data fabrication and falsification, redundant publication and illegitimate authorship. These problems are discussed in this article.

Concepts: Scientific method, Marriage, Academic publishing, Science, Scientific misconduct, Ghostwriter


Honorary authorship is the inclusion of an author on an article whose contribution does not warrant authorship. We conducted an Internet-based survey among first authors publishing in Indian biomedical journals from 2012 to 2013 to study the frequency and factors associated with honorary authorship. The response rate was 27% (245/908) with the prevalence of perceived, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)-defined, and unperceived honorary authorship of 20.9% (50/239), 60% (147/245), and 46.9% (115/245), respectively. Those residing in India were found to list more honorary authors. We hope to increase awareness of the ICMJE authorship guidelines and the general issue of honorary authorship among researchers in India and elsewhere.

Concepts: Research, India, Publishing, Writer, Author, Journal, Ghostwriter, Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals


To provide clarity on the professional medical writer as author or contributor by examining what “a substantial contribution” and “accountability” mean with respect to authorship in a biomedical publication. These terms relate to criteria 1 and 4 of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) authorship guidelines.

Concepts: Writer, Author, Publication, Ghostwriter, Publications, Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, Writing occupations, Medical writing


Moffatt argues that the “plurality of distinct accounts of scientific authorship” necessitates caution in attempts to identify unethical authorship practices, and urges that considerations be given to establishing a “single consensus account of authorship”. The revised ICMJE criteria do capture the essential features of authorship in terms of “intellectual contribution” and “responsibility and accountability”, which would clearly demarcate academically legitimate authorship from the common misdemeanours of ghost writing and honorary authorship. However, plurality in the practice of science and credit-sharing culture at the ground would likely render universal adoption or compliance of a single consensus account of authorship untenable.

Concepts: Science, Academia, Peer review, The Essential, Writer, The Practice, Accounts receivable, Ghostwriter