are problems with several dimensions.18 Honorary authors reap an inflated list of publications incommensurate with their scientific contributions (Zen, 1988). Some scientists have requested or been given authorship as a form of recognition of their status or influence rather than their intellectual contribution. Some research leaders have a custom of including their own names in any paper issuing from their laboratory, although this practice is increasingly discouraged. Some students or junior staff encourage such “gift authorship” because they feel that the inclusion of prestigious names on their papers increases the chance of publication in well-known journals. In some cases, noncontributing authors have been listed without their consent, or even without their being told. In response to these practices, some journals now require all named authors to sign the letter that accompanies submission of the original article, to ensure that no author is named without consent.
“Specialized” authorship is another issue that has received increasing attention. In these cases, a co-author may claim responsibility for a specialized portion of the paper and may not even see or be able to defend the paper as a whole.19 “Specialized” authorship may also result from demands that co-authorship be given as a condition of sharing a unique research reagent or selected data that do not constitute a major contribution—demands that many scientists believe are inappropriate. “Specialized” authorship may be appropriate in cross-disciplinary collaborations, in which each participant has made an important contribution that deserves recognition. However, the risks associated with the inabilities of co-authors to vouch for the integrity of an entire paper are great; scientists may unwittingly become associated with a discredited publication.
Another problem of lesser importance, except to the scientists involved, is the order of authors listed on a paper. The meaning of author order varies among and within disciplines. For example, in physics the ordering of authors is frequently alphabetical, whereas in the social sciences and other fields, the ordering reflects a descending order of contribution to the described research. Another practice, common in biology, is to list the senior author last.
Appropriate recognition for the contributions of junior investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students is sometimes a source of discontent and unease in the contemporary research environment. Junior researchers have raised concerns about treatment of their contributions when research papers are prepared and submitted, particularly if they are attempting to secure promotions or independent research funding or if they have left the original project. In some cases, well-meaning senior scientists may grant junior colleagues