Event Title

Austrian Pathologist Anton Ghon and Curious Cases of Namesake Misattribution in the Medical Literature: A Form of the Matthew Effect?

Start Date

10-2-2012 12:00 AM

Description

Objective. This study explored the origin of author-name misattribution of colleagues of Austrian researcher Anton Ghon and relevance of the Matthew effect as a contributing casual factor to these types of errors. Background. The term Matthew Effect derives from a quote in the Gospel of St. Matthew; “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” The term is used on occasions when a piece of research, an idea or a quotation gets associated or attributed to a more famous person rather than to its originator. Results. I have investigated two examples of erroneous substitution of original authors for a better known namesake in the medical literature. In the first example, the description of Moraxella catarrhalis has been misattributed to a publication of Ghon with prominent Prussian bacteriologist Richard Pfeiffer. In fact, Hermann Pfeiffer, a less prominent Austrian specialist, co-authored the paper. In the second example, description of the certain features of Clostridium chauvei was misattributed to the efforts of Ghon with Hans Sachs, another renowned bacteriologist. In fact, the real co-author of the paper was Milan Sachs, who is not well known. Omission of the first names of authors was common in citations early in the 20th century. Conclusion. Omission of the first names of authors underlies substitution of their names with more prominent namesakes. These examples can be seen as a peculiar form of the Matthew effect.

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Feb 10th, 12:00 AM

Austrian Pathologist Anton Ghon and Curious Cases of Namesake Misattribution in the Medical Literature: A Form of the Matthew Effect?

Objective. This study explored the origin of author-name misattribution of colleagues of Austrian researcher Anton Ghon and relevance of the Matthew effect as a contributing casual factor to these types of errors. Background. The term Matthew Effect derives from a quote in the Gospel of St. Matthew; “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” The term is used on occasions when a piece of research, an idea or a quotation gets associated or attributed to a more famous person rather than to its originator. Results. I have investigated two examples of erroneous substitution of original authors for a better known namesake in the medical literature. In the first example, the description of Moraxella catarrhalis has been misattributed to a publication of Ghon with prominent Prussian bacteriologist Richard Pfeiffer. In fact, Hermann Pfeiffer, a less prominent Austrian specialist, co-authored the paper. In the second example, description of the certain features of Clostridium chauvei was misattributed to the efforts of Ghon with Hans Sachs, another renowned bacteriologist. In fact, the real co-author of the paper was Milan Sachs, who is not well known. Omission of the first names of authors was common in citations early in the 20th century. Conclusion. Omission of the first names of authors underlies substitution of their names with more prominent namesakes. These examples can be seen as a peculiar form of the Matthew effect.