Hostage authorship and the problem of dirty hands

Authors : William Bülow, Gert Helgesson

This article discusses gift authorship, the practice where co-authorship is awarded to a person who has not contributed significantly to the study. From an ethical point of view, gift authorship raises concerns about desert, fairness, honesty and transparency, and its prevalence in research is rightly considered a serious ethical concern.

We argue that even though misuse of authorship is always bad, there are instances where accepting requests of gift authorship may nevertheless be the right thing to do. More specifically, we propose that researchers may find themselves in a situation much similar to the problem of dirty hands, which has been frequently discussed in political philosophy and applied ethics.

The problem of dirty hands is relevant to what we call hostage authorship, where the researchers include undeserving authors unwillingly, and only because they find it unavoidable in order to accomplish a morally important research goal.

URL : Hostage authorship and the problem of dirty hands

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016118764305

How to counter undeserving authorship

Authors: Stefan Eriksson, Tove Godskesen, Lars Andersson, Gert Helgesson

The average number of authors listed on contributions to scientific journals has increased considerably over time. While this may be accounted for by the increased complexity of much research and a corresponding need for extended collaboration, several studies suggest that the prevalence of non-deserving authors on research papers is alarming.

In this paper a combined qualitative and quantitative approach is suggested to reduce the number of undeserving authors on academic papers: 1) ask scholars who apply for positions to explain the basics of a random selection of their co-authored papers, and 2) in bibliometric measurements, divide publications and citations by the number of authors.

URL : How to counter undeserving authorship

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.395

The false academy: predatory publishing in science and bioethics

Authors : Stefan Eriksson, Gert Helgesson

This paper describes and discusses the phenomenon ‘predatory publishing’, in relation to both academic journals and books, and suggests a list of characteristics by which to identify predatory journals. It also raises the question whether traditional publishing houses have accompanied rogue publishers upon this path.

It is noted that bioethics as a discipline does not stand unaffected by this trend. Towards the end of the paper it is discussed what can and should be done to eliminate or reduce the effects of this development.

The paper concludes that predatory publishing is a growing phenomenon that has the potential to greatly affect both bioethics and science at large.

Publishing papers and books for profit, without any genuine concern for content, but with the pretence of applying authentic academic procedures of critical scrutiny, brings about a worrying erosion of trust in scientific publishing.

URL : The false academy: predatory publishing in science and bioethics

DOI :10.1007/s11019-016-9740-3