We wrote what? The problem of forged authorship. Plus, a guest appearance on MedPage Today

At a time when you can set up a Google alert to find out when your name appears anywhere on the Web — not that we’d know, of course — it puzzles us that some researchers are trying to get away with using others’ names on papers without their knowledge.

But they’re not just trying. Our recent experience suggests they’re actually getting away with it and seeing those papers in print. We’ve found at least six cases of that in the past few months. Of course, some eventually get caught.

We’d like to see journals taking a more vaccine-like approach to this problem. That’s the subject of our new column in Lab Times, where we’re now regular contributors. Excerpt:

Of course, that any cases of forged authorship still occur suggests that journal editors are falling asleep at the switch. Most publications require statements from all authors attesting to the nature of their participation in the preparation of a given manuscript – at least on paper. But the fact that forgery persists, indicates that some editors are willing to accept the “I swear” of a single author.

You can read the whole column here. One editor who’s not falling asleep at the switch: Annals of Internal Medicine‘s Christine Laine, who told an audience at the Council of Science Editors meeting last week that her journal copies every author on every correspondence. Surprised responses by some of those alleged authors have uncovered author forgery.

By the way, we both signed that column because, well, we both wrote and agreed to every word in it. Call us old-fashioned.

On the subject of journal editors’ responsibilities, Ivan has a guest column on MedPage Today co-authored with George Lundberg, the site’s editor at large. Lundberg is no stranger to those responsibilities, having served as editor in chief of JAMA for 17 years, among other posts. In the video column, which you can watch here with a transcript, we note:

Journal editors who fail to say why a retraction is taking place have abdicated their responsibility – to readers, to patients, and to taxpayers.

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