CHENNAI: Some doctors have always had friends who showered gifts for prescribing medicines or treatment. The unethical practice has taken a much more dangerous turn: doctors are now getting authorship of studies in internationally peer reviewed journals as gifts.
Publishing papers in international journals means higher professional standing, a declaration of professional ability and knowledge. Increasingly, both private and public sector healthcare facilities are using publications as a measure of academic performance and expertise for job offers, promotions and increments.
A survey published in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Medical Ethics points out that doctors are now being gifted authorship in journals of repute, even if they have made no contribution to the research. Gifting authorship is one of the most prevalent misconduct in biomedical publication among researchers, and nearly 65% of doctors admitted they were witness to it. More than half the doctors surveyed said they had seen falsification of data and plagiarism.
Researchers who gift authorship are mostly postgraduate students, said Dr George Thomas, former editor of Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. “Senior professors and staff threaten students. Many journals ask authors to list their contributions and sadly this is falsified,” he said. In some cases, doctors demand authorship for facilities at their hospitals. “Authors are answerable to the study. It’s unfair to give authorship to anyone who has not made a contribution. It belittles those who worked on the study,” said Dr Subramaniam Krishnakumar, head of Vision Research Centre, Sankara Nethralaya. [Source]