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Ghostwriting at Elite Academic Medical Centers in the United States

  • Jeffrey R. Lacasse mail,

    Affiliation: School of Social Work, College of Public Programs, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America

  • Jonathan Leo

    Affiliation: Lincoln Memorial University - DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, Harrogate, Tennessee, United States of America

  • Published: February 02, 2010
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000230
  • Featured in PLOS Collections

Reader Comments (3)

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"Ghostwriting" is the wrong term for this topic

Posted by IncisiveLS on 13 May 2010 at 03:24 GMT

This article uses the term "ghostwriting" in an unhelpful way. I think it is important for university research to be unbiased, and I would like to see bans against pharmaceutical industry practices that influence (supposedly independent) research results. Another alternative: the government could implement disclosure requirements for the pharmaceutical involvement--whether that involvement is writing, money, loaned equipment, etc.

Many scientists want a trained writer to help them articulate their research clearly--either because they don't have time to write or they feel they aren't strong writers. Getting ghostwriting assistance from a journalism student or a University's communications department is very different than having a pharmaceutical representative influence the study. If ghostwriting is banned, then we've a got a situation akin to "throwing the baby out with the bathwater." Scientists need to be able to get help from a trained writer when needed. It's a service to their readers (who want a clear understanding of the research methods and findings). A scientific ghostwriter's job is to report the research, not influence the results.

"Ghostwriting" is the wrong descriptor for the problem discussed in this article.

-- Leigh Steere, freelance science ghostwriter

No competing interests declared.