September 5, 2019

Increasing authorship problems: inadequate credit and plagiarism

Posted By Antonio Stefanini

No Comments

Conflicts about authorship have already been increasing, studies have shown. Based on a 1998 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Linda Wilcox, the ombudsperson at Harvard’s medical, dental, and public-health schools, the percentage of complaints about authorship during the three institutions rose within the 1990s. Such grievances ranged from people feeling that they were not being given credit as first author, even though they were promised it, to people feeling that their work merited first authorship despite the fact that they merely performed experiments and did not design or write the research up. Wilcox’s research discovered that authorship-related queries to her office rose from 2.3% of total complaints in 1991 to 10.7% in 1997. Between 1994 and 1997, 46% associated with the queries were from faculty and 34% were from postdoctoral fellows, interns, or residents.

Other studies, cited by Eugene Tarnow, point out the presssing dilemma of plagiarism as an issue, too. A 1993 study looked at perceived misconduct in a survey of professors and graduate students in four disciplines during a period of 5 years. Inappropriate co-authorship was slightly higher than plagiarism as an issue. Plagiarism was a problem of graduate students, while inappropriate co-authorship was a problem mostly of faculty.

What to do if an authorship problem arises

If a conflict arises between a junior scientist and a senior scientist regarding authorship, experts suggest that the disagreement should first be addressed inside the group of authors as well as the project leader. Should that not result in a satisfactory solution, the junior scientist can seek guidance off their members of the department, student organizations, representatives in an office of postdoctoral affairs, or perhaps the ombudsperson at the institution.

The ombudsperson is a neutral party who, if he or she is a subscriber to your standards associated with the national ombudsperson’s organization, will talk about the situation and won’t keep records associated with the conversation. The ombudsperson can talk about the concerns confidentially, help identify the difficulties, interpret policies and procedures, and supply a range of options for determining who deserves authorship or whether there are various other issues. Interpersonal problems (such as for example personality problems between a scientist that is senior a junior scientist), jealousy (such as for example regarding an innovative new person in a laboratory having the senior scientist’s attention), and cultural issues (foreign scientists might have different criteria for authorship) can be factors in authorship disputes.

Among the options that the ombudsperson might suggest is mediation, when the two parties meet the ombudsperson and make an effort to come to a mutual agreement. If negotiation and mediation are not able to work, the injured party will then choose to make an even more formal complaint utilizing the dean’s office, which will have a committee that investigates most of these issues.

Individuals must be in a position to distinguish between disagreements over allocation of misconduct and credit, Kathy Barker writes in Science’s Next Wave in 2002. If someone has evidence of plagiarism, fabrication, or falsification of information, this is certainly a more serious concern, and contacting legal counsel might be helpful as one proceeds to tell members of the institution about evidence.

C. Coping with errors

Errors are not misconduct, but there are differing levels of mistakes and authors have certain responsibilities to improve the record, according to Michael Kalichman, of this University of California, north park. If unintentional, minor errors are observed in a manuscript, the author should write the journal a letter describing the mistake, which is usually called an erratum. The authors should again write the journal and give an explanation for errors as a “correction. if the errors are serious enough to undermine the report” But if the errors that are inadvertent serious enough to completely invalidate the published article, or if misconduct has occurred, the authors should ask for a retraction for the paper. It is better to admit a mistake than to have another person believe it is, Kalichman says. An admission of error is regarded as a sign of integrity and indicates that the individual cares about the veracity of this literature.

The difficulty with ghost authors

Another accountability problem in authorship takes place when investigators hire a ghost author, in accordance with Mildred Cho and Martha McKee. Pharmaceutical companies often hire ghost writers for clinical studies yet others sign their names as authors. Busy investigators also employ medical writers to publish up studies. A challenge with a ghost writer is she may not fully understand the underlying experiments and may not be able to explain the content of the work to other scientist co-authors or editors pay someone to write my paper at a journal that he or. Writing is an ongoing process very often helps an author to clarify what she or he is thinking. A ghost writer may dilute what is relevant, resulting in mistakes that are possible. Ghost writers also eliminate the possibility to train students or fellows that are postdoctoral be authors.

E. Ownership of articles: not signing away rights to publish

Authors should not consent to give a sponsor the proper of first approval of a write-up before publication. Indeed, Columbia University includes among its policies of intellectual property for faculty the statement “No agreement shall restrain or inordinately delay publication associated with the outcomes of a Faculty member’s University-related activities.” (For more information, see

A recent case that occurred between 1996 and 2002 during the University of Toronto, highlights the situation of signing away the ability to publish the findings of a clinical trial without prior approval through the drug company that is sponsoring the trial. The truth involved Dr. Nancy Olivieri, who was simply testing a drug if you have thalassemia, a disease characterized by the inability of the person in order to make one of several two proteins of hemoglobin, the blood’s oxygen carrier. Or even treated, the illness is generally fatal in childhood. The drug, an formulation that is oral was meant to be an alternative to an injectable drug, already being used, that treats the iron buildup occurring after individuals with thalassemia get transfusions due to their condition. Although the drug showed promise in the early 1990s, Dr. Olivieri had evidence in 1996 that patients taking the drug had iron that is dangerously high. Dr. Olivieri said that she reported the negative findings to the sponsoring company, which soon afterward withdrew funding for her trial and shared with her to get rid of speaking about or publishing her results. Although she had signed a nondisclosure agreement, Dr. Olivieri felt obligated to report her findings, since they would affect the health of patients, and she published her results in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1998. But her actions led to issues with the sponsoring company, which threatened her with legal action, and with the University of Toronto, which had fired her due to the study that is controversial. She was ultimately rehired, while the disputes between your university while the hospital where she worked were resolved in November 2002, with a agreement that is confidential.

To avoid similar situations that challenge freedom that is academic researchers should not allow sponsors to have veto power over publication. The ICJME guidelines state:

Researchers should not enter into agreements that interfere making use of their access to the information and their capability to independently analyze it, to prepare manuscripts, and also to publish them. Authors should describe the role regarding the study sponsor(s), if any, in study design; within the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; into the writing for the report; plus in the choice to submit the report for publication. If the supporting source had no such involvement, the authors should so state. Biases potentially introduced when sponsors are directly involved with research are analogous to methodological biases of other sorts. Some journals, therefore, elect to include information regarding the sponsor’s involvement within the methods section.”

After the invention for the printing press, within the century that is 15th scientists started writing about their investigations in books, based on Adil E. Shamoo and David Resnick, writing when you look at the Responsible Conduct of Research. The difficulty with books was that they took time to print. So scientists instead wrote letters, which soon became an important method for the transmission and recording of advances.

Leave a Reply