The public was recently exposed to an embarrassing and unfortunate case pertaining to the publication of a research manuscript about a study that apparently was never conducted. When the authors of the manuscript were required to take responsibility for the content of the manuscript, one of the authors, a department head, reacted by saying that he did not know about the matter and that while standing in the lobby of the conference hall during a professional conference, he had given his agreement to the publication, along with his signature, without bothering to check what he was committing to and without having been involved in effect in any part of the work itself.
This was the sad climax of a dismal and continuing reality, reflected in complaints received by the Ethics Bureau, that claims that the list of authors of scientific manuscripts frequently does not reflect the real contribution of those listed. This is an expression of the tradition according to which the department head is always considered the “author” of an article with respect to every manuscript published in his department, even if he or she was not involved in any way whatsoever in the manuscript.
The editors of leading medical journals in the world are currently conducting an important campaign aimed at maintaining the public’s trust in scientific truths published in these journals. The boundaries of this struggle deviate from the framework of this position paper; however, as part of the endeavor to preserve the status of medicine in Israel, we deem it crucial to reiterate to the medical community in Israel what is proper and what is improper with respect to scientific publications.
I would like to thank the members of the Ethics Bureau sub-committee - Dr. Tammy Karni (chairperson), Dr. Elinor Goshen, Dr. Danny Harduf, Dr. Baruch Chen and Prof. Adi Shani, who wrote and edited the first version of this document.
Prof. Avinoam Reches
Chairperson, IMA Ethics Bureau