Disputes associated with achieving recognition for work done may affect
both morale and subsequent resource allocation to medical researchers.
To assess authorship disputes brought to the Ombuds Office.
The Ombuds Office, Harvard Medical School, Dental School, School of
Public Health, and affiliated hospitals.
Main Outcome Measure.—
Change in number of queries related to authorship between 1991 to 1992
and 1996 to 1997.
Disputes increased from 8 (2.3%) of 355 issues brought to the office
in 1991 to 1992 to 59 (10.7%) of 551 issues in 1996 to 1997. They also increased
from involving 0.06% of the total population of faculty, staff, and students
affiliated with the schools in 1991 to 1992 to 0.33% of the total population
in 1996 to 1997. Such problems appear to occur more often for women (53% of
complaints in 1994-1995 through 1996-1997) and for non–US citizens (21%
of complaints in 1991-1992 through 1996-1997).
Authorship disputes are increasingly frequent. Institutions should increase
enforcement of published authorship standards and place more emphasis on managerial
skills for laboratory and research department heads.