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Authorship Conflicts: A Study of Awareness of Authorship Criteria among Academic Plastic Surgeons

Reinisch, John F. M.D.; Li, Wai-Yee M.D., Ph.D.; Yu, Daniel C. B.A.; Walker, John W. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: August 2013 - Volume 132 - Issue 2 - p 303e–310e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182958b5a
Special Topics

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.

Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, Calif.; and Lexington, Ky.

From Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California; the University of Kentucky College of Medicine; and private practice.

Received for publication October 24, 2012; accepted February 13, 2013.

Presented in part at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, in Coronado, California, May 25 through 28, 2012. The results of the 2003 survey were presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, in Chicago, Illinois, May 9 through 12, 2004.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

John F. Reinisch, M.D., Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, 250 South Robertson Boulevard, Suite 506, Beverly Hills, Calif. 90211,

©2013American Society of Plastic Surgeons