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Opinions on Authorship

A Survey of Plastic Surgery Residents and Fellows

Momeni, Arash MD*; Hunter, Cedric MD*; Li, Alexander Y. MD, MS*; Safa, Bauback MD; Wan, Derrick C. MD*; Kneser, Ulrich MD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001396

Background Scientific publications are the cornerstone of scholarly activities. The importance of appropriately assigned authorship cannot be overstated. Hence, we felt it prudent to examine the perception of plastic surgery trainees regarding authorship. We hypothesized that plastic surgery trainees would not be in compliance with International Committee of Medical Journal Editors guidelines when determining what constitutes an authorship justifying contribution.

Methods An online survey describing 4 distinct scenarios was distributed to plastic surgery trainees at 2 academic institutions using the Qualtrics research software (Provo, UT). Additional parameters queried included level of training and number of publications. Linear regression models were used to test correlation between responses and level of training and number of publications.

Results Thirty-three of 48 trainees responded (response rate, 68.8%). All respondents had previously authored publications, with the majority (54.5%) having at least 10 publications. Although none of the scenarios presented justified authorship based on international guidelines, 33.3% of respondents believed that authorship was warranted in at least 3 of the 4 presented scenarios. Linear regression comparing for demographic variables to number of perceived authorship scenarios found a mild-moderate positive correlation with level of training (R = 0.34, P = 0.05) and number of publications (R = 0.32, P = 0.07).

Conclusions Plastic surgery trainees do not seem to be familiar with guidelines regarding authorship justifying contributions. It is important to raise awareness regarding criteria that warrant authorship and to educate our residents and fellows in matters of appropriate scholarly conduct because nothing short of the credibility of our scientific endeavors is otherwise in question.

From the *Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto;

The Buncke Clinic, San Francisco, CA; and

Department of Plastic and Hand Surgery, BG Ludwigshafen, Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Received August 23, 2017, and accepted for publication, after revision January 9, 2018.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Arash Momeni, MD, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, 770 Welch Rd, Suite 400, Palo Alto, CA 94304. E-mail:

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