How Many Plastic Surgeons Does It Take To Write A Paper? A 10-year Bibliometric Analysis Of Authorship Inflation
Ledibabari M. Ngaage, MA Cantab, MB BChir, Suvethavarshini Ketheeswaran, MD, Jaimie T. Shores, MD.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Publications measure academic productivity; they can affect research funding and career trajectory. There is a trend of increased authors per publication in surgery journals. We sought to determine whether authorship inflation exists in the plastic surgery literature and identify independent predictors of number of co-authors.
We performed a bibliometric analysis of articles published in three high impact plastic surgery journals at 2-year intervals between 2010 and 2020. For each publication, we collected details on year of publication, article type, plastic surgery topic, gender of senior author, geographical origin of study, and number of authors.
A total of 5593 articles were collected. The median number of authors per article increased over time (rho 0.199, p<0.001). Cohort studies, basic science investigations, literature reviews, and systematic reviews experienced a significant increase in the number of authors per article from 2010 to 2020 (p<0.001). The rise in number of authors was consistent across all plastic surgery topics (p<0.001). Both male and female senior authors had a significant increase in the number of co-authors (p<0.001). The regression model demonstrated that article type (cohort studies, basic science investigations, and systematic reviews) and geographical region (East Asia, Europe, North America, and South America) predicted more co-authors, whereas plastic surgery topics (aesthetic and hand surgery) predicted fewer authors.
The number of authors per publication is increasing in plastic surgery. Author proliferation was consistent across most article types and unaffected by gender. Possible reasons behind this trend include research complexity, increased collaboration, or gift authorship.
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