Academic authorship#Honorary authorship

With honorary authorship (English honorary authorship, guest authorship or authorship poison ) refers to the mention of a person as an author, without that it has contributed a significant contribution to the publication. Usually it relates to a renowned scientist and the head of a university or research institute.

The term is mainly used in scientific publications and is there a miss is that is often a result of the increasing pressure profiling (publish or perish ).


The German Research Foundation ( DFG ) is called the actual authors only those individuals who have contributed significantly to the design of studies for the development and analysis of data and drafting of the manuscript and approved the publication. Are people out as authors, although they do not meet the above requirements, it is called an honorary authorship. Among other things, the acquisition of funding, the provision of materials or the management of the institution alone can not be regarded in itself as sufficient for authorship.


Although the honorary authorship does not meet the scientific requirements, it is not uncommon. In almost all fields of science, with the exception of the humanities, the average number of authors per publication has increased. This is usually based on increasing cooperation. It led also to receive in addition to the actual authors of other people in the list of authors. In Germany it was common until recently, to guide the head of a research organization or group, regardless of its technical contribution to the publication in the author list. One of the main reasons is probably the fact that the scope of the publication list is considered to be a measure of scientific success and thus be beneficial for raising funds for research. Partly also the respective doctoral regulations is sufficient grounds for the honor of authorship, since there often must take place prior publication in scientific journals only upon approval of the thesis supervisor. Especially for inexperienced writers inclusion of known persons may be considered helpful in the assessment as part of a publication.


The German Research Foundation, which provides the bulk of research funds means an honorary authorship as excluded and considers this not with the guidelines respected journals compatible. The former DFG President Ernst- Ludwig Winnacker called the honorary authorship as scientific misconduct and compared these even with shoplifting at a convenience store. This view regarding the honorary authorship is not limited to the German research landscape: The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich designated as honorary authorship was not allowable.

Also international scientific journals of similar demands on the authorship, for example:

  • AIAA Journal: To protect the integrity of authorship, only persons who have Significantly Contributed to the research and paper presentation shoulderstand be listed as authors.
  • International Committee of Medical Journal Editors ( ICMJE ) requires for authorship substantial Contributions, drafting the article or revising it and final approval of the version to be published.
  • Physical Review Letters: All of the authors made ​​significant Contributions to the concept, design, execution, or interpretation of the research study.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Authorship Should Be Limited to Those Who have Contributed Substantially to the work.