Detecting plausible unethical authorship using academic databases

Collaborators: TS Gopi Rethinaraj (National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore)

Working paper: Unethical authorship is research misconduct

Blog post: Detecting plausible unethical authorship using Scopus

This project surveys the various forms of research misconduct cases that have been reported in the past few decades in India and the world. These have led to a number of research ethics policies globally which deal with the most common types of research misconduct: plagiarism, fabrication and falsification. Unethical authorship remains a challenge worldwide as it is one of the more difficult types of research misconduct to detect.

Large databases of peer–reviewed literature like Elsevier Scopus or Web of Science catalogue a significant fraction of the peer reviewed journals, conference proceeding and book series. The long time series and near-universal coverage of a person’s publication record along with openly available external information such as a person’s work history, designations and positions in academia and research laboratories can be used to detect a pattern in authorship and construct plausible cases of authorship misconduct. We use Scopus to detect a plausible case of authorship misconduct and discuss possible research ethics policies and guidelines that might help detect or prevent unethical authorship.