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J Clin Epidemiol. 2014 Sep;67(9):1049-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2014.04.006. Epub 2014 Jun 26.

Perceptions of authors' contributions are influenced by both byline order and designation of corresponding author.

Author information

1
Division of Orthopedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, CLARITY Research Group, McMaster University, 293 Wellington Street North, Suite 110, Hamilton, Ontario L8L 8E7, Canada; Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, 1280 Main St W, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada. Electronic address: bhandam@mcmaster.ca.
2
Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, 1280 Main St W, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.
3
Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X8, Canada.
4
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine, 451 Smyth Rd., Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada.
5
Department of Surgery, Umm Al-Qura University, Al Taif Road, Makkah, 24382, Saudi Arabia.
6
Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, 1280 Main St W, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada; Department of Anesthesia, McMaster University, HSC-2U1, 1200 Main St. West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada; The Michael G DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We explored how readers interpret authors' roles based on authorship order and corresponding author.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING:

We conducted a cross-sectional survey of all 291 Surgical and Medical Chairpersons across North America. We developed hypothetical study and authorship bylines with five authors varying the corresponding author as first or last author. Respondents reported their perceptions about the authors' roles in the study and the most prestigious authorship position. We used multinomial regression to explore the results.

RESULTS:

One hundred sixty-five chairpersons (response rate: 57%) completed our survey. When the first author was designated as corresponding author, most of the respondents assumed that this author had taken the lead in study design (55.3%) and analysis and interpretation of data (51.2%). When the last author (fifth) was designated as corresponding, perceptions of the first author's role in study concept and design (odds ratio [OR] = 0.25, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.15, 0.41) and analysis and interpretation of results (OR = 0.22, 95% CI: 0.13, 0.38) decreased significantly. Overall prestige of the last author position increased significantly when designated as corresponding author (OR = 4.0, 95% CI: 2.4, 6.4).

CONCLUSIONS:

Academic department chairs' perception of authors' contributions was influenced by corresponding author designation. Without authors' explicit contributions in research articles, many readers may draw false conclusions about author credit and accountability.

KEYWORDS:

Authorship order; Cross-sectional; Evidence-based medicine; Multinomial regression; Publications; Survey

PMID:
24973824
DOI:
10.1016/j.jclinepi.2014.04.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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