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Authorship Proliferation in the Orthopaedic Literature
Mark Camp, MD, MSc1; Benjamin G. Escott, MBBS, MSc1
1 Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, The Banting Institute, Suite 302, 100 College Street, Toronto, ON M5G 1L5, Canada. E-mail address for M. Camp: mark.camp@mail.utoronto.ca
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Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2013 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2013 Apr 03;95(7):e44 1-5. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00519
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Authorship is the currency of the academic orthopaedic surgeon. There has been an unprecedented increase in the number of authors per publication in many biomedical fields. Possible reasons for this trend include increased complexity of research, “undeserved” authorship, and the “pressure to publish.” We explored the change in authorship in two leading orthopaedic journals over a period of sixty years.


We examined all original research articles and case reports published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American and British Volumes) (JBJS-A and JBJS-B) in ten-year intervals from 1949 to 2009. For each article, we determined the number of authors, the geographic origin of the research, and the academic degrees of the authors; we also examined the changes that occurred in these categories.


The mean number of authors per original research article increased from 1.6 in 1949 to 5.1 in 2009. There has been a noticeable internationalization of the two journals, with a decreasing proportion of articles from North America and the United Kingdom and Ireland as a result of increased contributions from Europe and the Far East. Authors with advanced research degrees (PhD; MS; MD, PhD; and MD, MS) account for an increasing proportion of contributing authors; over 30% of authors had an advanced research degree in 2009.


Our findings suggest that the trend of authorship proliferation in biomedical research is also seen in the orthopaedic literature. The mean number of authors, the proportion of authors per research article with an advanced research degree, and variation in the geographic origin of articles has increased over the past sixty years.

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