Authorship in paediatric research conducted in low- and middle-income countries: parity or parasitism? (pages 1362–1370)

Tropical Medicine & International Health
November 2017   Volume 22, Issue 11  Pages 1361–1462

Original Research Papers
Authorship in paediatric research conducted in low- and middle-income countries: parity or parasitism? (pages 1362–1370)
Chris A. Rees, Heather Lukolyo, Elizabeth M. Keating, Kirk A. Dearden, Samuel A. Luboga, Gordon E. Schutze and Peter N. Kazembe
Version of Record online: 20 SEP 2017 | DOI: 10.1111/tmi.12966
Interest in global health has increased greatly in the past two decades. Concomitantly, the number and complexity of research partnerships between high-income (HIC) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has grown. We aimed to determine whether there is authorship parity (equitable representation and author order) or parasitism (no authors from study countries) in paediatric research conducted in LMICs.
We reviewed all articles published from 2006 to 2015 in the four paediatric journals with the highest Eigenfactor scores. We limited our review to articles from LMICs and abstracted information on author affiliation and order, funding source and study design. We calculated Student’s t-tests and chi-square using Fisher’s exact test with Monte Carlo estimates.
There were 24 169 articles published during the study period, and 1243 met inclusion criteria. Of those, 95.9% (n = 1,192) included at least one author affiliated with a LMIC. Among multicountry studies (n = 165), 40.4% did not include authors from every LMIC involved. Of the 9876 authors, most were affiliated with institutions from upper-middle-income countries (41.7%) and HICs (32.7%), with far fewer affiliated with lower middle-income (15.5%) and low-income countries (5.4%) (P < 0.001). In articles from low-income countries, first and last authors from HICs were more common than authors with low-income country affiliations (P < 0.001).
Authorship parasitism was rare overall but common in multicountry studies. In studies conducted in low-income countries, HIC authors more commonly occupied first and last author positions than authors from the study countries. Where LMIC authors make substantial contributions, researchers should strive for authorship parity.