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Review
. 2018 Oct 18;33(46):e287.
doi: 10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e287. eCollection 2018 Nov 12.

Integrity of Authorship and Peer Review Practices: Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement

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Free PMC article
Review

Integrity of Authorship and Peer Review Practices: Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement

Durga Prasanna Misra et al. J Korean Med Sci. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Integrity of authorship and peer review practices are important considerations for ethical publishing. Criteria for authorship, as delineated in the guidelines by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), have undergone evolution over the decades, and now require fulfillment of four criteria, including the need to be able to take responsibility for all aspects of the manuscript in question. Although such updated authorship criteria were published nearly five years ago, still, many major medical and specialist journals have yet to revise their author instructions to conform to this. Inappropriate authorship practices may include gift, guest or ghost authorship. Existing literature suggests that such practices are still widely prevalent, especially in non-English speaking countries. Another emerging problem is that of peer review fraud, mostly by authors, but also rarely by handling editors. There is literature to suggest that a proportion of such fake peer review may be driven by the support of some unscrupulous external editing agencies. Such inappropriate practices with authorship malpractices or disagreement, or peer review fraud, have resulted in more than 600 retractions each, as identified on the retractions database of Retractionwatch.com. There is a need to generate greater awareness, especially in authors from non-English speaking regions of the world, about inappropriate authorship and unethical practices in peer review. Also, support of any external editing agency should be clearly disclosed by authors at the time of submission of a manuscript.

Keywords: Authorship; External Editing Agency; Peer Review; Peer Review Fraud; Research Integrity; Retraction.

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure: The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1. Evolution of authorship criteria as per the ICMJE.
ICMJE = International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, COI = conflicts of interest.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2. Inappropriate authorship.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3. Number of retractions due to specific issues related to inappropriate authorship or fake peer review. Data were searched on Retractionwatch.com retractions database (date of search: 29th June 2018).
Fig. 4
Fig. 4. Analysis of continent of affiliation for retractions due to inappropriate authorship issues. Data were searched on Retractionwatch.com retractions database (date of search: 29th June 2018). Reason of retraction listed as “Concerns/Issues about Authorship” or “Forged Authorship”.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5. Analysis of continent of affiliation for retractions due to inappropriate authorship issues, other than those represented in Fig. 4, identified by searching reason of retraction using the terms “Objections of Author(s)” along with any of “Plagiarism”, “Concerns/Issues about Referencing/Attributions”, “Duplication of Article”, “Duplication of Image”, “Duplication of Data” or “Copyright Claims”. Data were searched on Retractionwatch.com retractions database (date of search: 29th June 2018).
Fig. 6
Fig. 6. Analysis of contemporariness of authorship criteria referred to in the author instructions in general medical and specialist journals. As an example, we analyzed the rheumatology journals listed at the Scimago Journal and Country Rank website, as per the quartile in which the journal is listed (Q1, Q2, Q3 or Q4) (date of search: 28th June 2018).
Fig. 7
Fig. 7. Analysis of continent of affiliation for retractions due to fake peer review. Data were searched on Retractionwatch.com retractions database (date of search: 29th June 2018). Reason of retraction listed as “Fake peer review”.

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