Objective: The objective of our study was to determine the prevalence of honorary authorship in articles published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) and to evaluate the factors that might influence the perception of honorary authorship.
Materials and methods: Corresponding authors of 1333 Original Research articles published in AJR between 2003 and 2010 were invited by e-mail to complete a Web-based, self-administered survey. Univariable analysis of sample proportions was performed using the chi-square test. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the independent factors that were associated with the probability of honorary authorship.
Results: Responses were received from authors of 490 articles (36.8% response rate). Most respondents were aware of the authorship guidelines proposed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (n = 399, 81.4%) and the issue of honorary authorship (n = 353, 72.0%). Authorship was most commonly decided by the first author (n = 256, 52.2%). One hundred twenty-one authors (24.7%) perceived that one or more coauthors listed for the respective article did not make sufficient contributions. Factors most strongly associated with honorary authorship included a work environment where a senior department member was automatically listed (odds ratio [OR], 1.33), the suggestion that an honorary author should be included (OR, 5.96), and the perception that a coauthor performed only a single nonauthor task (i.e., reviewing the manuscript: OR, 1.54).
Conclusion: A substantial proportion of articles had evidence of honorary authorship. The rate of honorary authors was higher among authors who worked in an environment where senior members were routinely added to all manuscripts submitted for publication, authors who perceived that a coauthor listed had only reviewed the manuscript, and authors who reported that someone suggested they should include an honorary author.