Background: Honorary authorship (HA) refers to enlisted authors who did not make sufficient contributions to a paper according to the guidelines, as defined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). This study assessed the proportion of, and factors associated with, HA in cardiothoracic surgical literature in 2017. Methods: Five cardiothoracic surgery journals were selected based on their impact factors in 2017 for evaluation of HA. Articles were included in the analysis if there was more than 1 listed author and if there was an available E-mail address of the corresponding author. All corresponding authors received an invitation to fill out our survey regarding their paper in 2017. Results: In total, 1511 authors opened the invitation, resulting in a total of 590 respondents (28.9%); 77.1% of all authors were aware of the ICMJE guidelines and 47.0% were aware of the general issue of HA. A total of 367 (62.7%) authors stated that at least one of the coauthors had performed solely nonauthorship tasks, whereas 148 (25.3%) authors stated that they believed that their article contained at least one honorary author. Having a senior member who was automatically included on all submitted manuscripts and not being aware of the general issue of HA were associated with significantly greater odds of having HA. Conclusions: Our results show that, despite the high awareness of the ICMJE guidelines, there is a large discrepancy in perceived HA and guideline-based HA. The authors plead for a better understanding and implementation of the guidelines in a more transparent authorship system.
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© 2019 The American Association for Thoracic Surgery