Inappropriate authorship is a common problem in biomedical research and may be becoming one in bioethics, due to the increase in multiple authorship. This paper investigates the authorship policies of bioethics journals to determine whether they provide adequate guidance for researchers who submit articles for publication, which can help deter inappropriate authorship. It was found that 63.3% of bioethics journals provide no guidance on authorship; 36.7% provide guidance on which contributions merit authorship, 23.3% provide guidance on which contributions do not merit authorship, 23.3% require authors to take responsibility for their contributions or for the article as a whole, 20% provide guidance on which contributions merit an acknowledgement but not authorship, 6.7% require authors to describe their contributions, and only 3.3% distinguish between authorship in empirical and conceptual research. To provide authors with effective guidance and promote integrity in bioethics research, bioethics journals should adopt authorship policies that address several important topics, such as the qualifications for authorship, describing authorship contributions, taking responsibility for the research and the difference between authorship in empirical and conceptual research.
- Applied and professional ethics
- journal policies
- responsible conduct of research
- scientific research
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Funding This research was supported, in part, by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). It does not represent the views of the NIEHS, NIH, Health Canada or the US or Canadian governments. At the time of performing this study, ZM was also affiliated with the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research and the Regenerative Medicine Program of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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