Background: Authorship is an important yardstick in academic medicine. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of authorship conflicts among academic plastic surgeons and determine any change in authorship awareness over an 8-year period.
Methods: In 2003, members of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons were surveyed using an anonymous, 15-item, one-page questionnaire. In 2011, members were resurveyed using a similar questionnaire. In both surveys, nonresponders were contacted by telephone at 2 weeks to encourage response.
Results: The authors obtained a response rate of 80.4 percent (258 of 321) in 2003 and 81.6 percent (486 of 595) in 2011. In both cohorts, one-third of respondents felt that they had not been appropriately acknowledged as authors at some point during their career. Furthermore, in 2003, 29 percent of respondents admitted to being involved in a dispute with a colleague over authorship issues. This had decreased slightly to 22 percent by 2011. Interestingly, 64 percent of respondents in 2003, compared with only 37 percent of respondents in 2011, stated that they had included someone as an author who had not fulfilled any authorship criteria. In 2003, only 16 percent of respondents were aware of any journal authorship criteria. This had increased to 59 percent by 2011.
Conclusions: The authors found an increase in awareness of authorship criteria among academic plastic surgeons in 2011 compared with those in 2003. In addition, academic plastic surgeons surveyed more recently reported more rigorous justification for including individuals as authors, supporting a trend toward increasing transparency and accountability.