One in five papers by ghostwriters

The prevalence of honorary authors – individuals who have not contributed substantially to be able to take public responsibility for the work – and of unnamed authors was 21% in 2008, down from 29% in 1996.

Editors from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) surveyed authors of nearly 900 research, review or opinion articles from their own journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, Lancet, Nature Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine and PLoS Medicine.

BMJ 2011; online 25 Oct