Responsible authorship: why researchers must forgo honorary authorship

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


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.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship*
  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Humans
  • Professional Role
  • Publishing / ethics*
  • Research Personnel / ethics
  • Social Responsibility*