Frontiers has today published a new author policy designed to help prevent cases of “authorship-for-sale” among its research publications, a term used throughout the industry which refers to the unethical practice of buying or selling authorship on research papers.
“We recognize that there are legitimate reasons for the request of authorship changes after submission. However, to create real impact in reducing authorship-for-sale schemes, publishers must depend on responsible collaboration from our authors to ensure that their author lists are correct at the point of submission,” says Dr Frederick Fenter, chief executive editor of Frontiers.
Under the new policy, requests for authorship changes will only be granted under exceptional circumstances and after in-depth assessment by the Frontiers’ research integrity unit. A ledger of requests will be maintained to identify suspicious patterns and trends among these types of requests. As of today, Frontiers has identified and retracted 38 research papers linked to the practice.
“The updated policy and decision to retract these papers reflect our commitment to upholding integrity throughout our portfolio and ensuring that authorship is attributed based on genuine contributions to the research process,” says Dr Fenter. “By taking this unambiguous stance, we aim to maintain the trust of readers, authors, and collaborators, while demonstrating to those tempted to engage in this unethical practice will be identified and reported to their institution.
“We recognize the potentially negative impact of the authorship-for-sale retractions on the credibility of any authors who genuinely contributed to these manuscripts. However, our commitment is and will always be to protect the integrity of the scientific record. This is an industry-wide issue and details have now been shared with the Committee on Publication Ethics. We also remain open to sharing details of our investigation and the methods we use to identify ‘authorship-for-sale’ papers with other publishers on request.”
The updated authorship policy is part of Frontiers’ ongoing efforts to foster a culture of academic integrity, responsible authorship, and ethical research practices. The organization remains dedicated to promoting an environment in which the quality and authenticity of research are upheld above all.