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Account Res. 2011 Mar;18(2):76-90. doi: 10.1080/08989621.2011.557297.

Responsible authorship: why researchers must forgo honorary authorship.

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Department of Philosophy and Religion, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, USA.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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