This pressure may result in "author inflation"-giving byline credit to individuals who have made only trivial contributions to published studies. For example, it is not unheard of for laboratory or department heads to routinely add their names to the publications of their staff. Also, some individuals who provide access to essential experimental samples, research facilities, or patient populations expect authorship as a quid pro quo. Furthermore, less well-known authors may invite prominent researchers to share their bylines in the hope of enhancing the visibility of their publications.

Several studies have documented that the average number of authors per paper is steadily rising. In some fields-such as clinical medicine or high-energy physics-author inflation has been conspicuous, with bylines listing dozens of individuals. No doubt, this increase is due in part to changes in the way science is being conducted. While the days of lone-investigator or small-team research are far from over,...

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