Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2008  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-


B Sivapathasundharam 
 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College and Hospital, Alapakkam Main Road, Maduravoyal, Chennai - 600 095, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
B Sivapathasundharam
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College and Hospital, Alapakkam Main Road, Maduravoyal, Chennai - 600 095, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Sivapathasundharam B. Authorship.Indian J Dent Res 2008;19:1-1

How to cite this URL:
Sivapathasundharam B. Authorship. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2008 [cited 2021 Mar 4 ];19:1-1
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Full Text

There has been growing concern over the recent years regarding publication in journals by teaching and research faculty. Rather than serving the basic purpose of sharing concepts, knowledge, and experience, these publications and presentations-be it a case report or a research paper-are often used as a means for getting a better placement, a promotion, or a financial grant. As a result, the medical literature is flooded with an enormous volume of substandard data. More than half of the published manuscripts are not even cited once in the literature. [1] This can be attributed to factors such as faulty science or concept in the manuscript, outdated or incomplete research work, duplication of a previous publication, or poor language and presentation. The issue of such substandard manuscripts can be managed at the editorial level by outright rejection of the article, but a factor that has baffled journal editors, and remains a big contributor to such volume inflation of medical literature, is 'irresponsible authorship.'

Authorship is exploited by many for advancement of their careers, but they do not seem to understand the concurrent accountability and responsibility. It is unfortunate that most of the scientific writers, and even some of the journal editors, are still unaware of the criteria for authorship formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). [2] The Indian scenario in this regard is even worse. After the emergence of many 'deemed-to-be' universities and postgraduate institutions, publication has become a prerequisite for the promotion of the faculty members. This often results in violation of authorship guidelines.

False claims of authorship are a grave insult to that section of the scientific community that is genuine and sincere. Journal editors can do very little about it other than instructing the author(s) to specify the role of each author or contributor which, again, can be far from the truth. The insincere and immoral acts include claiming authorship merely on the grounds of being the head of the department or institution; claiming authorship for editing a postgraduate dissertation and converting it into an article; naming a staff member who desperately needs a promotion as the first author-gifting authorship [3] ; or 'surprise authorship' (I used to receive such surprise addition of names, usually the name of a senior faculty or a colleague, after the final proof correction or just before the print machine was switched on.)

The most unethical acts are seen in the false claims of authorship of research papers, where the research work has been carried out by a postgraduate student or a junior staff member under the guidance of a senior staff member or department head. Taking advantage of the students' dependence upon, and respect towards, their teachers and the lack of awareness about the authorship guidelines among the students, [4] the teachers immorally name themselves as the first authors. Ironically, the first author is supposed to be the one who has done the maximum work. [5] Medical science develops for the welfare of humanity. Overlooking moral values, intellectual theft, and the unprincipled craving for the recognition that follows publication neither aids in the development of a sincere scientist nor of a good human being.


1Hamilton DP. Publishing by-and for?- the numbers. Science 1990;250:1331-2.
2Available from:
3Biagioli M, Crane J, Derish P, Gruber M, Rennie D, Horton R. White paper on authorship. [Last cited on 1999 May 17]. Available from: [Last accessed on 2000 Feb 23].
4Sahu DR, Abraham P. Authorship: Rules, rights, responsibilities and recommendations. J Postgrad Med 2000;46:205-10.
5Tarnow E. The authorship list in science: Junior physicists' perceptions of who appears and why. Sci Eng Ethics 1999;5:73-88.