Numbers and Trends in Authorship of Published Case Reports in Plastic Surgery Journals, 1956-2018

Marios Papadakis1


Although some studies reporting authorship proliferation in plastic surgery exist,1 there are no studies about case reports. Moreover, most studies report only 1 or 2 journals. The aim of this study was to investigate the evolution of authorship in MEDLINE-indexed case reports published in the majority of plastic surgery journals over time.


A list of the top plastic surgery journals according to the Scimago Journal & Country Rank2 was made. Excluded were journals that do not consider case reports, journals that limit the number of authors, and wound journals owing to the broad spectrum of specialties publishing in these journals. Case reports published in journals that later stopped considering case reports were included. Each journal was separately searched and filtered in PubMed for case reports published between 1956 and 2018.


A total of 13,960 case reports published in 14 plastic surgery journals between 1956 and 2018 were analyzed. The number of case reports published reached its peak in 2009, and this number has been decreasing since 2010. The overall percentage of case reports among all manuscripts published was 22%, ranging from 3% (in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery) to 48% (in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery). The mean (SD) number of authors was 3.4 (1.7). The mean number of authors per manuscript increased from 1.3 in 1956 to 2.6 in 1990 and 4.2 in 2018 (Figure 16). The most common number of authors was 3 (found in 25% of case reports), followed by 2 (21%). Overall, 87% of the case reports had between 1 and 5 authors, whereas only 0.2% had 11 or more authors. One case report had 20 authors and another one had 19 authors, whereas no case report with 16 to 18 authors was found.


Plastic surgery remains a field in which case reports are published frequently (22% overall), although there has been a decreasing trend during the last 10 years. The trend of authorship proliferation reported in original articles submitted in plastic surgery journals is also observed in case reports, with a current mean number of 4.2 authors per article. However, the increase is not as extreme as in other fields.3


1. Durani P, Rimouche S, Ross G. “How many plastic surgeons does it take to write a research article?” authorship proliferation in and internationalisation of the plastic surgery literature. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2007;60(8):956-957. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2006.08.002

2. Scimago Lab. Scimago Journal & Country Rank. Accessed July 11, 2022. https://www.scimagojr.com/

3. Papadakis M. How many scientists does it take to write a COVID-19 case report? Account Res. 2021;28(3):186-190. doi:10.1080/08989621.2020.1821369

1Department of Surgery II, University Witten-Herdecke, Witten, Germany, marios_papadakis@yahoo.gr

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

None reported.