Why Does Academic Medicine Allow Ghostwriting? A Prescription for Reform
ghost writer (n., orig. U.S.): a hack writer who does work for which another person takes the credit -- Oxford English Dictionary
A book, paper, or speech that involves an author who is not given credit is considered ghostwritten, at least according to most dictionary definitions. This straightforward and seemingly commonsense definition has yet to be accepted within academic medicine. Over the past 15 years, the academic medical community has quietly tolerated the presence of ghostwriters in the medical literature, a practice that no other segment of the university community has allowed. A medical research paper containing a subtle endorsement for a medication carries more weight with clinicians and patients if the pharmaceutical company that wrote the paper is not mentioned in the authorship byline, especially if it lists prominent university professors from prestigious institutions.
The practice of ghostwriting is neither rare nor harmless. Alleged ghost authors haunt the clinical tri
- Brian, D., & Thacker, P. 2010. POGO letter to NIH on ghostwriting academics [Internet]. Washington, DC; Nov 29 [cited 2011 Feb 2]. Project on Government Oversight. Available from: http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/letters/public-health/ph-iis-20101129.html.
- Collins, F. S. 2010. NIH response letter to Paul Thacker POGO on ghostwriting academics [Internet]. Washington, DC; Feb 17 [cited 2011 Feb 2]. Project on Government Oversight. Available from: http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/nih-response-to-pogo-on-ghostwriting-20110217.html.
- Healy, D., & Cattell, D. 2003. Interface between authorship, industry and science in the domain of therapeutics. British Journal of Psychiatry [Internet]. Jul 1 [cited 2011 Feb 2];183(1):22–27. Available from: http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/183/1/22.
- Jureidini, J. N., McHenry, L. B., & Mansfield, P. R. 2008. Clinical trials and drug promotion: Selective reporting of study 329. International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine, 20(1–2), 73–81.
- Lacasse, J. R., & Leo, J. 2010. Ghostwriting at elite academic medical centers in the United States. PLoS Medicine [Internet]. Feb 2;7(2):e1000230. Available from: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.10002 International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.
- Leo, J., & Lacasse, J.R. 2010. Ghostwriting and Academic Medicine. Chronicle of higher education. [Internet] Jul 19, 2010. Available at: http://chronicle.com/article/GhostwritingAcademic/123613/
- Moffatt, B., & Elliott, C. 2007. Ghost marketing: pharmaceutical companies and ghostwritten journal articles. Perspective Biology and Medicine [Internet]. [cited 2011 Feb 2];50(1):18–31. Available from: http://www.webcitation.org/5wJIVyU8j.
- Sismondo, S. 2007. Ghost management: how much of the medical literature is shaped behind the scenes by the pharmaceutical industry? PLoS Medicine [Internet]. Sep [cited 2011 Feb 2];4(9):e286. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040286.
- 2009. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: Ethical considerations in the conduct and reporting of research: Authorship and contributorship [Internet]. Available from: http://www.icmje.org/ethical_1author.html.
- Why Does Academic Medicine Allow Ghostwriting? A Prescription for Reform
Volume 48, Issue 5 , pp 371-375
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Author Affiliations
- 1. DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN, 37752, USA
- 2. Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, College of Public Programs, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, 85004, USA
- 3. College of Public Programs, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, 85004, USA