Honorary authorship is highly prevalent in health sciences: systematic review and meta-analysis of surveys

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey research was conducted to estimate honorary authorship prevalence in health sciences. We searched PubMed, Lens.org, and Dimensions.ai. until January 5 2023. Methodological quality was assessed and quantitative syntheses were conducted. Nineteen surveys were included and rated as having low methodological quality. We found a pooled prevalence of 26% [95% CI 21–31] (6 surveys, 2758 respondents) of researchers that perceived co-author(s) as honorary on the publication at issue (when they were not referred to any authorship criteria). That prevalence was 18% [95% CI 15–21] (11 surveys, 4272 respondents) when researchers were referred to Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) authorship criteria, and 51% [95% CI 47–56] (15 surveys, 5111 respondents) when researchers were asked to declare their co-author(s) contributions on the publication at issue (and these were then compared to ICMJE criteria). 10% of researchers [95% CI 9–12] (11 surveys, 3,663 respondents) reported being approached by others to include honorary author(s) on the publication at issue and 16% [95% CI 13–18] (2 surveys, 823 respondents) admitted adding (an) honorary author(s). Survey research consistently indicates that honorary authorship in the health sciences is highly prevalent, however the quality of the surveys’ methods and reporting needs improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4385
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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