Automatically listing senior members of departments as co-authors is highly prevalent in health sciences: meta-analysis of survey research

Reint A. Meursinge Reynders, Davide Cavagnetto, Gerben ter Riet, Nicola Di Girolamo, Mario Malički

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

A systematic review with meta-analysis was conducted to assess the prevalence of automatically listing (a) senior member(s) of a department as co-author(s) on all submitted articles in health sciences and the prevalence of degrees of support on a 5-point justification scale. Survey research was searched in PubMed, Lens.org, and Dimensions.ai. until January 5 2023. We assessed the methodological quality of studies and conducted quantitative syntheses. We identified 15 eligible surveys, that provided 67 results, all of which were rated as having low quality. A pooled estimate of 20% [95% CI 16–25] (10 surveys, 3619 respondents) of researchers in various health sciences reported that a senior member of their department was automatically listed as an author on all submitted articles. Furthermore, 28% [95% CI 22–34] of researchers (10 surveys, 2180 respondents) felt that this practice was ‘never’, 24% [95% CI 22–27] ‘rarely’, 25% [95% CI 23–28] ‘sometimes’, 13% [95% CI 9–17] ‘most of the time’, and 8% [95% CI 6–9] ‘always justified’. The practice of automatically assigning senior members of departments as co-authors on all submitted manuscripts may be common in the health sciences; with those admitting to this practice finding it unjustified in most cases.

Registration of the protocol The protocol was registered in Open Science Framework. Link: https://osf.io/4eywp/.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5883
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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