Background: An author is generally regarded as an individual “who has made substantial intellectual academic contributions to a published study”. However, the extent of the contribution that laboratory medicine professionals have made as authors of research papers in high-impact medical journals remains unclear.
Methods: From 1 January 2004 to 31 March 2009, 4837 original research articles appeared in the: New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA and BMJ. Using authorship as an indicator of intellectual contribution, we analyzed articles that included laboratory medicine parameters in their titles in an observational cross-sectional study. We also extracted data regarding radiological topics that were published during the same time within the same journals.
Results: Out of 481 articles concerning laboratory medicine topics, 380 provided information on the affiliations of the authors. At least one author from an institution within the field of laboratory medicine was listed in 212 articles (55.8%). Out of 3943 co-authors, only 756 (19.2%) were affiliated with laboratory medicine institutions. Authors from laboratory medicine institutions were listed as the first, last or corresponding authors in 99 articles (26.1%). The comparative proportions for author affiliation from 55 radiology articles were significantly higher, as 72.7% (p=0.026) of articles and 24.8% (p=0.001) of authors indicated an affiliation with a radiology institution. Radiology professionals from 72.7% of the articles were listed as either the first, last or corresponding authors (p<0.0001). The subgroup analysis revealed that laboratory medicine professionals from North America were significantly less frequently involved as co-authors than were their colleagues from Europe (p=0.04).
Conclusions: Laboratory medicine professionals are underrepresented as co-authors in laboratory medicine studies appearing in high-impact general medicine journals.
©2012 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston