Prevalence of articles with honorary and ghost authors in three pharmacy journals

Dotson, Bryan; Slaughter, Richard L.
September 2011
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;9/15/2011, Vol. 68 Issue 18, p1730
Academic Journal
Purpose. The prevalence of honorary and ghost authors in articles published in 2009 in three peer-reviewed pharmacy journals was studied. Methods. A 20-question survey was emailed to corresponding authors of articles with two or more authors published in 2009 in the American Journal of Health- System Pharmacy, Annals of Pharmacotherapy, and Pharmacotherapy. The survey solicited the following information: demographic characteristics of the corresponding author, information about the published article, information to determine whether any of the authors did not meet the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors criteria for authorship, and information to determine if an individual contributed substantially to the research or writing of the article but was not listed as an author. Results. Of the 491 corresponding authors to whom the survey was sent, 457 had a working e-mail address; 114 surveys were completed (24.9% response rate). Usable responses were provided by 112 authors. The prevalence of articles with honorary and ghost authors was 14.3% and 0.9%, respectively. Honorary authorship was more common in original research than review articles. Articles with honorary authors had longer bylines than articles without honorary authors (mean number of authors, 4.9 versus 3.7; p = 0.002) . The proportion of articles with an honorary author was 1.9% for articles with fewer than 4 authors, 25% for articles with 4 or 5 authors, and 29.4% for articles with more than 5 authors (p = 0.001). Conclusion. A survey sent to the corresponding authors of articles published in 2009 in three peer-reviewed pharmacy journals revealed that a substantial percentage of articles demonstrated evidence of honorary or ghost authorship.


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