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Trop Med Int Health. 2019 Oct;24(10):1229-1242. doi: 10.1111/tmi.13295. Epub 2019 Aug 21.

Importance of authorship and inappropriate authorship assignment in paediatric research in low- and middle-income countries.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
IMA World Health, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
Baylor College of Medicine Children's Foundation Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi.


in English, French


To understand the importance of authorship and authorship position, and gauge perceptions of inappropriate authorship assignment, among authors publishing paediatric research conducted in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).


We conducted a cross-sectional, mixed-methods study using an online survey of both corresponding and randomly selected, non-corresponding authors who published research conducted in LMICs from 2006 to 2015 in the top four paediatric journals by Eigenfactor score. We used chi-square tests to compare responses by authors living in LMICs to authors living in high-income countries (HICs). We analysed qualitative responses using thematic analysis.


Of 1420 potential respondents, 19.6% (n = 279) completed the survey. 57% (n = 159) lived in LMICs and 43% (n = 120) in HICs. LMIC authors more commonly perceived first authorship as most important for their academic advancement than HIC authors (74.2% vs. 60.8%, P = 0.017), while HIC authors reported last authorship as most important (25.1% vs. 38.3%, P = 0.018). 65% (n = 181) of respondents believed that their collaborators had been inappropriately assigned authorship positions (no difference in LMIC and HIC responses) and 32.6% (n = 91) reported personally accepting inappropriate authorship positions (more common in HIC respondents, P = 0.005). In qualitative data, respondents questioned the applicability of standard authorship guidelines for collaborative research conducted in LMICs.


LMIC and HIC authors held different perceptions about the importance of authorship position. Reported inappropriate authorship assignment was common among both LMIC and HIC respondents. Alternatives to standard authorship criteria for research conducted in LMICs merit further studies.


authorship; global health; paediatric; paternité d'auteur; perceptions; pédiatrie; santé globale


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