Correspondence  |   July 1999
Plagiarism and Authorship 
Author Notes
  • Anesthesia Services Medical Group; San Diego, California;
Article Information
Correspondence   |   July 1999
Plagiarism and Authorship 
Anesthesiology 7 1999, Vol.91, 324. doi:
Anesthesiology 7 1999, Vol.91, 324. doi:
To the Editor:-The recent example of wholesale plagiarism that graced the pages of the August 1998 issue of Anesthesiology [1 ] raises the question of academic honesty in addition to the shameful lifting by the junior author of 40% of the article from a review course lecture by Dr. Cottrell. In his editorial response that accompanied the authors' retraction in the December 1998 issue, [2 ] Editor-in-Chief Dr. Todd rightly decried the plagiarism. He then essentially exonerated the senior author, however, insisting that "one author may not be aware of plagiarism committed by a fellow author. In fact, it is extremely difficult for one author to defend himself from such actions committed by a fellow author." Actually, it is very easy-do not put your name on someone else's work!
The essence of plagiarism is the appropriation of the intellectual product of one person by another. How is this different from the granting or demanding of authorship by senior authors for the work product of their juniors? In this case, the senior author, Dr. Kirsch, was asked to write an editorial. He delegated the task to a junior colleague, Dr. Bhardwaj, and then took equal authorship of the finished work product. Does it really matter that the work product he appropriated was actually that of Dr. Cottrell and not, as he thought, Dr. Bhardwaj?
The ubiquitous habit of senior authors taking credit for the work product of their junior colleagues is exactly equivalent to plagiarism. They are happy to steal (excuse me, share) the credit, but, of course, if there are later charges of intellectual hanky panky, they claim lack of knowledge or responsibility, and only the junior author takes the fall.
Brian L. Partridge, M.D, D.Phil.
Anesthesia Services Medical Group; San Diego, California;
(Accepted for publication March 23, 1999.)
Bhardwaj A, Kirsch JR: Anesthetic agents and hypothermia in ischemic brain protection. Anesthesiology 1998; 89:289-91
Todd MM, Bhardwaj A, Kirsch JR: Plagiarism. Anesthesiology 1998; 89:1307-8