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Mens Sana Monogr. 2008 Jan;6(1):257-73. doi: 10.4103/0973-1229.33006.

Medical ghost-writing.

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Editor-In-Chief of The Write Stuff, the journal of the European Medical Writers Association.


Any assistance an author receives with writing a scientific article that is not acknowledged in the article is described as ghost-writing. Articles ghost-written by medical writers engaged by pharmaceutical companies who have a vested interest in the content have caused concern after scandals revealed misleading content in some articles. A key criterion of authorship in medical journals is final approval of the article submitted for publication. Authors are responsible for the content of their articles and for acknowledging any assistance they receive. Action taken by some journals and medical writer associations to encourage acknowledgement is an uphill task in the light of disinterest from the pharmaceutical industry and ignorance or similar lack of interest by those who agree to be named authors. However, acknowledgment alone is not sufficient to resolve medical ghost-writing; issues of how the acknowledgement is formulated, permission to acknowledge and access to raw data also need to be tackled.


Acknowledgement; Author's editor; Ghost authorship; Ghost-writing; Pharamaceutical industry; Publication ethics

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