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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 224-228

A comparative study on authorship trends in four Persian and English Journals in the field of Medical Education


Department of Medical Education, Medical Education Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Science, Isfahan, Iran

Date of Web Publication2-Sep-2016

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mohammad Fakhari
Department of Medical Education, Medical Education Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Science, Isfahan
Iran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2395-2296.189673

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  Abstract 

Context: The authorship issue is a major ethical challenge for professional researchers. Authorship trend is an indirect indicator of professional manner regarding the Medical Education researchers. Aims: This study is conducted to compare the trends of authorship in four high impact journals in the field of Medical Education. Materials and Methods: The authorship trends of two high impact English Journals in Medical Education: The Medical Teacher and the Medical Education versus the two high impact Persian Journals in Medical Education: The Strides in Development of Medical Education Journal and the Iranian Journal of Medical Education (IJME) are compared in this study. Statistical analysis was performed using IBM SPSS version 19, Minitab version 17 and Excel add-in Megastat version 10.1 software. Results: The authorship trends of 6699 articles in the four journals of concern are analyzed. Over the past 12 years, the mean number of authors has increased in both the Persian and one of the English Journals. The trend lines of single authored articles in the English Journals and the IJME decreased in a significant manner. However, in the Persian Journals, the percentage of single-author articles is obviously lower than the English Journals. Conclusion: The increasing number of authors per article could be considered as a sign of increased collaborative research or authorship misconducts in this field. Further research is recommended to study the causes and contributing factors in the increasing trend of authorship in the Persian Journals.

Keywords: Authorship, Iran, Medical Education, medical ethics


How to cite this article:
Yousefy A, Fakhari M. A comparative study on authorship trends in four Persian and English Journals in the field of Medical Education. Int J Educ Psychol Res 2016;2:224-8

How to cite this URL:
Yousefy A, Fakhari M. A comparative study on authorship trends in four Persian and English Journals in the field of Medical Education. Int J Educ Psychol Res [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Oct 15];2:224-8. Available from: http://www.ijeprjournal.org/text.asp?2016/2/4/224/189673


  Introduction Top


Professional behavior is a critical issue among the scientific researchers. Researchers must consider the ethical issues in their research fields. The issue of authorship is one of the many potential conflicts of interests in most of the research fields.[1] In the related literature, some guidelines are introduced for overcoming this ongoing challenge. The uniform requirements for manuscripts protocol developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors contain the known guidelines for defining the role of authorship and contributor ship in Biomedical Journals.[2] Accordingly, in scientific articles, each author must have substantial contributions to research conception and design, acquisition and interpretation of data, drafting the article, and final approval of submitted article.[3]

Recently, the number of authors per scientific articles has followed an increasing trend. For instance, in journals regarding plastic surgery, the number of authors per article has doubled in the recent 30 years.[4] Regarding Emergency Medical Journals, the number of authors per article has doubled from 1975 to 1995 while the numbers of pages have remained in the range of 4–6.[5]

The number of authors per scientific article reflects the extent of the study in an indirect manner, i.e., large-scale studies such as international, national, and interdisciplinary studies typically involve a great number of researchers.[6],[7] For example, an article published in the Medical Teacher journal had 20 authors.[8]

Medical Education is a new interdisciplinary field of research;[9] hence, a new scientific research field in Iran, that is establishment of the Persian Medical Education Journals in the recent two decades. The Persian Medical Education Journals mostly publish articles written by the Iranian researchers. There exists a lack of evidence regarding authorship pattern in this field. The objective of this study is to compare the authorship trend among the above mentioned four high impact journals in the field of Medical Education during 12 years (2001–2013).


  Materials and Methods Top


This study was conducted in 2014 as a retrospective study with a time series trend analysis. Two high impacts Persian Journals, the Strides in Development of Medical Education Journal and Iranian Journal of Medical Education (IJME) are chosen, and the trends of authorship in their published articles are analyzed. These Persian Journals are published monthly and are indexed in the Islamic World Science Citation Center. To compare the authorship trend between Iranian and non-Iranian journals, the Medical Teacher and the Medical Education Journals are chosen as the two high impacts international journals as counterparts. Data are extracted directly from websites of the selected journals. Articles published in 2001–2013 in the Persian and the English Journals are analyzed.

For comparison purposes, the articles are classified into four groups with respect to the number of author per article: Single-authored articles, 2–3 authors per article, 4–5 authors, and 6–10 authors. In each journal, the frequency of article with eleven or more authors is reported separately. Statistical analyses were conducted using IBM SPSS for Windows versions 19.0 (IBM SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL). The Minitab Version 17 statistical software (Minitab, State College, PA, USA) is applied to calculate linear trend model for each trend line. The Excel add-in Megastat version 10.1 software (Distributed by McGraw-Hill. Available online: http://www.mhhe.com/support) applied for analyzing linear regression model of each trend line and estimating the relationship between time and frequency of author per articles. In this study, the number of author per article and publishing year entered manually to an Excel spreadsheet at first and then exported to other statistical software.


  Results Top


In this study, the number of authors in 6699 articles is analyzed. The frequency of article published in each journal annually and the mean and standard deviation of the authors per article in the four journals are analyzed in the SPSS software and tabulated in [Table 1]. Based on the frequency of an annual number of published articles in each journal, the number of articles published in the Medical Teacher and the Medical Education follows a relatively stable pattern. As reported in [Table 1], the SDMJ began its publication in 2004, and there is not any data before this. The IJME began its publication in 2000 with an increasing number of articles annually. The IJME published 112 abstracts (without full text) in 2002, follows by the publication of a big number of articles in the same year. A small proportion of published articles have eleven or more author. Two articles in SDEMJ and one in IJME had eleven or over authors. As for the English Journals, the Medical Teacher had 35 articles and the Medical Education had 8 articles with 11 or more authors during these 12 years.
Table 1: Represents the frequency of article published in each subject journals and the mean and standard deviation of the number of authors by year of publication

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The trend line of the mean authors prearticle in the subjected journals are presented in [Chart 1]. The Megastat trend analysis revealed that the Medical Teacher (r = 0.80, P < 0.05), the SDEMJ (r = 0.86, P < 0.05), and the IJME (r = 0.73, P < 0.05) have a significant increase in the number of authors per article trend lines. In the Medical Education (r = 0.42, P = 0.14), the trend line of mean authors per article show does not statistical significant change over time. The Minitab results revealed that the gradient of trend line is higher in the SDEMJ (Yt = 2.48 + 0.12 × t) compared to that of the Medical Teacher and the IJME journals.



The trend lines of the single-author articles frequency are present in [Chart 2]. The Megastat trend analysis revealed that the Medical Teacher (r = 0.63, P < 0.05), the Medical Education (r = 0.56, P < 0.05), and the IJME (r = 0.75, P < 0.05) face a significant decrease in the frequency of single-author article trend lines. In the SDEMJ (r = 0.55, P = 0.09), the frequency of single-author article trend lines show does not statistical significant change over time. The Minitab results revealed that the gradient of trend line is higher in the IJME (Yt = 20.13 - 1.51 × t) compared to that of the Medical Teacher and the Medical Education Journals. During the 2001–2013 years, over 20% of all published articles in the Medical Education annually were single-authored. While the frequency of single-author articles published in the IJME Journals was below 5% during the 2008–2013 period.



The trend lines of the articles written by two or three authors are presented in [Chart 3]. All journals had a stable trend line with no statistically significant change during the 12 years. The Minitab trend analysis revealed that over 50% of the articles published in the Persian Journals (the SDEMJ = 70.0%, the IJME = 52.25%) had two or three authors per article.



The trend lines of the articles with four or five authors are drawn in [Chart 4]. The Megastat trend analysis revealed that the Medical Education (r = 0.66, P = 0.01) has a significant increase in the frequency of articles with four or five authors trend lines. The trend lines in the Medical Teacher, the SDEMJ, and the IJME does not show a statistically significant change over time.



Trend lines of articles with 6–10 authors per article are drawn in [Chart 5]. The Megastat trend analysis revealed that the Medical Teacher (r = 0.79, P < 0.05) and the Medical Education (r = 0.62, P < 0.05) have a significant increasing in the frequency of articles with 6–10 authors trend lines. The trend lines in the SDEMJ and the IJME does not show a statistically significant change over time. The Minitab results revealed that the gradient of the trend line is lower in the Medical Education (Yt = 5.85 + 0.374 × t) compared to that of the Medical Teacher.




  Discussion Top


The findings in this study revealed the mean number of authors per article in the Medical Education Journal did not change over the time while other journals had increasing trend lines. These increasing trends correspond to that of the previous studies.[5],[7],[10],[11] Previous studies on Persian Journals reveal that the published articles with multiple authors have increased in recent decades. For instance, in a study on authorship trend in an Iranian ISI Indexed Journal, the mean number of author per article estimated above four authors per article and trend of the mean authors per article increased during 2007–2011.[12] Previous studies have considered several factors that are involved in the increase of the mean authors per article in scientific journals such as the development of intradisciplinary team research in medical sciences, collaborative studies, national, or international combined research.[6],[7],[12] Another possible reason for the increased amount of authors might be related to the articles written by students with the collaboration of their supervisors for the purpose of gaining academic experience.[13],[14]

Another finding reveals that the number of single-author articles has decreased in the English Journals and the IJME. The percentage of single authored articles in the English Journals is more than the Persian Journals. Heydari and Safavi found that 8% of all published articles in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences were single authored.[12] The single-authored articles published in the field of health sciences between 1998 and 2000 make 15% of all.[6] Another study in the field of bioethics revealed that 64% of articles published in this journal were single authored.[10] The reasons for these decreased trend lines of single authored articles in the Persian Journal are not clear and need to be found through studies. Another finding of this study reveals that the trend lines of article with 2 or 10 authors have not changed during 12 years significantly. The trend lines of articles with 4–10 authors in the Medical Education Journal increased during 12 years significantly. The Medical Teacher Journal has an increasing trend line in articles with 6–10 authors. However, the Persian Journals have a higher percentage of articles with two or five authors in comparison to the English Journals.

Some articles have addressed the influence of the cultural factors with respect to multiple-authored articles.[15] For instance, one study mentioned that England Journals had a tendency to publish numerous articles with fewer pages and authors, unlike American Journals.[16] Articles extracted from medical theses or dissertations may include the names of faculty, supervisors, and advisors as contributing authors.[14],[17]

The increasing trend of authors per article has allowed some experts to argue that authors are less considered with the authorship guideline and criteria.[5],[16],[18],[19] Carver et al. believe that article with more than 3 authors increased the probability of authorship misconduct.[11] In addition, Dr. Brand believes that articles with four or more authors may have gift authors.[20] Some experts believe that authorship misconduct allows the entrance of irresponsible authors such as honorary/gift, coercive, or mutual support authors in scientific articles.[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22] To prevent this misconduct, researchers must become aware of authorship guidelines and authorship misconduct regulations.[23]

In this study, the trend of authorship in four high impact journals in the field of medical education research is assessed. It is recommended that the further studies to assess the influencing factors on authorship trend such as research type, extent of study, cultural factors, tendencies, and attitudes authors.


  Conclusion Top


The results of this study indicate that the mean of authors per article increased in all journals except the Medical Education Journal in a steady manner. In the contrary to the English Journals, the percentage of the single-authored articles in the Persian Journals is low. Further studies recommended investigating the contributing factors on decreasing trend of single-author articles.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
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Roudbari M, Roudbari S. Authorship pattern in publications based on theses and dissertations; school of medical management and informatics, Iran university of medical sciences. Bimonthly Educ Strateg Med Sci 2014;6:247-51.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
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