Factors That Affect Integrity of Authorship of Scientific Meeting Abstracts

John Lynch, Jane E. Strasser, Christopher J. Lindsell, Joel Tsevat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Strict criteria for article authorship exist to guide decisions on who should be considered an author. Less is known about how authorship for scientific meetings is determined. Our goal was to explore factors that influence decisions about authorship of conference abstracts. Methods: In 2010, we conducted qualitative focus groups with a stratified sample of 36 trainees, 19 junior faculty members, and 11 senior faculty members. Focus-group transcripts were coded using a coding scheme derived from an initial review of the transcripts and a preliminary theoretical framework, which was based on the literature, anecdotes, and personal experience. Results: We identified six themes related to abstract authorship: comparisons with articles; collaboration dynamics; time; experience and professional development; standards for authorship; and funding. We found that views of abstracts as a lesser form of publication lead to diminished integrity of authorship; trainee inexperience and the dynamics of collaboration adversely influence the integrity of authorship independently of the perceived difference between an abstract and an article; and early communication about authorship appears to increase the integrity of authorship decisions. Conclusions: Authors do not hold abstracts to the same standard as articles. As such, abstract authorship decisions are frequently inconsistent with authorship criteria pertaining to manuscripts. Such inconsistencies might be improved with stricter institutional rules, clear and consistent authorship guidelines for abstracts submitted to conferences, a requirement that all authors verify their contributions to the abstract, and additional training in the responsible conduct of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalAJOB Primary Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • abstracts
  • authorship
  • communication
  • qualitative research
  • research ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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