What's missing from CONSORT 2010
The revised CONSORT guideline is a welcome contribution to attempts
make reporting of research more robust. However, the fact that it
omits any mention of guest or ghost authorship is cause for concern.
There is now increasing awareness of the extent to which people who
not contributed to a paper are credited as authors (guest authorship) and
those who have contributed are not (ghost authorship). Such deceptive
practice is unethical and can weaken otherwise strong evidence:
and complete identification of contributors to research publication is
essential to scientific integrity."
In CONSORT 2010's checklist of information that must be included when
reporting a trial, the first item mentioned is "Title and abstract"; the
is "Introduction". Why is no reference made to the importance of honest
attribution of authorship? The guidelines of the International Committee
Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) state that “All persons designated as
should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be
and strict criteria are provided for what constitutes authorship. Given
CONSORT goes into so much detail about what should be included in a
report, it is surprising that no mention is made of the importance of
CONSORT 2010 correctly states that "readers of a published report
complete, clear and transparent information on its methodology and
findings." They also need to know who actually wrote the research report.
Given that its aim is to encourage “lucid and complete descriptions…of
critical information”, CONSORT should at the very least refer authors to
Dr David Shaw, Lecturer in Ethics, University of Glasgow
1. Schulz KF, Altman DG, Moher D. CONSORT 2010 Statement: updated
guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials. BMJ
2. Wislar J, Flanagin A, Fontanarosa PB, DeAngelis CD. Prevalence of
and ghost authorship in 6 general medical journals, 2009 [abstract]. Sixth
International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication;
September 10-12, 2009; Vancouver.
3. Murray S, Brophy J, Palepu A. Open Medicine’s ghost and guest
policy. Open Medicine 2010; 4(1).
http://www.openmedicine.ca/article/view/378/296 (accessed 30/3/10)
4. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform
for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Ethical Considerations
the Conduct and Reporting of Research: Authorship and Contributorship.
http://www.icmje.org/ethical_1author.html (accessed 30/3/10)
Competing interests: No competing interests