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Responsible Authorship: Why Researchers Must Forgo Honorary Authorship

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Although widespread throughout the biomedical sciences, the practice of honorary authorship—the listing of authors who fail to merit inclusion as authors by authorship criteria—has received relatively little sustained attention. Is there something wrong with honorary authorship, or is it only a problem when used in conjunction with other unethical authorship practices like ghostwriting? Numerous sets of authorship guidelines discourage the practice, but its ubiquity throughout biomedicine suggests that there is a need to say more about honorary authorship. Despite its general acceptance among many scientists, honorary authorship is unethical. Even if burdensome, responsible researchers are obligated to forgo honorary authorship.
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Keywords: accountability; authorship; honorary authorship; research ethics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy and Religion, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi, USA

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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