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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 198  

Authorship issues

Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Narayana Medical College, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication24-Apr-2012

Correspondence Address:
K Gowrinath
Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Narayana Medical College, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-2113.95351

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How to cite this article:
Gowrinath K. Authorship issues. Lung India 2012;29:198

How to cite this URL:
Gowrinath K. Authorship issues. Lung India [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 May 28];29:198. Available from: http://www.lungindia.com/text.asp?2012/29/2/198/95351


I read the article entitled '"authorship issues"' by Sandeep B Bavdekar with interest. [1] Authorship plays an important role in the academic career as reputation of an individual is often based upon the number and impact of his/her research publications. Publication efforts are mainly for promotion, incentives, for name/fame/recognition and for grants. Publish or perish culture might be one of the reasons for increase in average number of authors listed in a scientific article from 1.9 in 1955 to 3.5 in 2004. [2] The authorship criteria laid down by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) [3] were not easy to practice as it was reported that about 60% of 72 articles in the Journal of Annals of Internal Medicine and 21% of 107 articles in the British Medical Journal in 2002 had at least one author who does not fulfill ICMJE criteria. [4] In our country, ethical deviations like authorship to non-contributors and failure to maintain data/records for verification mostly go unchecked and unreported. Moreover, it is not easy to decide the order of authorship while listing multiple authors in a paper. Proper assessment of contribution of each author is difficult, as there is a tendency to overestimate one's own contribution towards the scientific work. [5] In some cases, either the order of authorship is decided even before the study begins or mere experimental work without any intellectual input is taken as major contribution in the paper.

Until recently except for medical institutes run by the central government, promotion is based upon specified years of teaching even without a single research publication in most state run or private medical colleges of our country. This means that a professor or associate professor without any research background can act as guide to his postgraduate student's dissertation work. Even the recently introduced system of requirement of specified number of scientific publications at each level of promotion for medical faculty in medical colleges has been diluted by our state government as without scientific publications, the promotion can only be delayed by one year. The risk of overlooking plagiarism and substandard dissertation content is high when the guide himself does not have proper research experience. Plagiarism in dissertation work happens when the intellectual work of others whether written or electronic is included without acknowledgment in an approved form or when identical content or with minor changes of previously submitted dissertations is written as their own work. I have been correcting dissertations of different universities in the subject of pulmonary medicine since 2006. I have the impression that the topic of dissertation selected by the postgraduate medical student is often related to those already submitted before in another college or university. For example my professor's dissertation topic was on the diagnostic role of closed pleural biopsy in pleural effusions submitted in 1980s. I still find dissertations with similar topic or with minor changes in the title being submitted every year by at least one postgraduate medical degree (MD) student in our state. I would like to seek certain clarifications from the author regarding dissertation work in our country. Can a dissertation be rejected just because similar work was done before in some other institute? Another observation is that very few postgraduate students attempt to publish their dissertation after passing their final examination. What is their professional liability in case they attempt to publish their dissertation without involving the guide after few years in our country? In USA, Office of Research Integrity (ORI) was established in 1992 to deal with complaints of ethical misconduct, plagiarism etc. and to promote integrity and responsible research activities. [6] Is it fair to allow somebody, just because he is an associate professor or professor to act as a guide when he himself did not have any research experience other than writing a dissertation as a requirement to get his postgraduation degree? Is there any system available in any university or regulatory authorities like Medical Council of India to deal with complaints of plagiarism or scientific misconduct?

   References Top

1.Bavdekar SB. Authorship issues. Lung India 2012;29:76-80.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
2.Wuchty S, Jones BF, Uzzi B. The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science 2007;316:1036-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted in biomedical journals; Writing and editing for biomedical publications, International committee of medical journal editors. Available from: http://www.icmje.org/index.html. [Last accessed on 2012 Feb18.].  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Bates T, Anic A, Marusic M, Marusic A. Authorship criteria and disclosure of contributions. JAMA 2004;292:86-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Hoen WP, Henk CW, Overbeke AJPM. What are the factors determining authorship and the order of the author's name? JAMA 1998;280:217-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Steneck NH. Introduction to the responsible conduct of research. Revised ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 6


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