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Challenging Medical Ghostwriting in US Courts

  • Xavier Bosch mail,

    xavbosch@clinic.ub.es

    Affiliation: Department of Internal Medicine at the Hospital Clínic and the Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pí i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

    X
  • Bijan Esfandiari,

    Affiliation: Law Firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

    X
  • Leemon McHenry

    Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, California State University, Northridge, California, United States of America

    X
  • Published: January 24, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001163
  • Featured in PLOS Collections

Reader Comments (6)

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Guest Authors Versus Ghosts

Posted by jonleo on 26 Jan 2012 at 14:28 GMT

This is an excellent article. Keep in mind that guest authors and ghostwriting often go together but not necessarily. It is possible that the named authors on the byline deserve to be there. However if the byline has excluded someone, like a company employee, who has made a significant contribution then the article has been ghostwritten. If someone who should be called an author is thanked for "editorial assistance" in the acknowledgment section the article has been ghostwritten.

No competing interests declared.

RE: Guest Authors Versus Ghosts

KarenShashok replied to jonleo on 26 Jan 2012 at 21:02 GMT

Whoa there. The phrase "editorial assistance" in the Acks is not proof, by any means, that a ghostwriter was involved.

This phrase has been used by some medical writers, but it is also used frequently by legitimate author's editors as a convenient, brief way to summarize what the author's editor did. Author's editors do not write the text for byline authors, but edit, correct and revise text that the named authors have written.

In all but very exceptional cases, author's editors do not feel they "should be called an author".

(I am a translator, author's editor and editorial consultant, but not a medical writer.)

No competing interests declared.

RE: RE: Guest Authors Versus Ghosts

jonleo replied to KarenShashok on 26 Jan 2012 at 21:15 GMT

Who said it was proof? In some cases the term "editorial assistant" is an appropriate term, but not if they did a significant amount of the work, like writing the first draft. In Study 329, the most famous, and most cited ghostwritten study, Sally Laden was not listed on the byline. Instead, the acknowledgement section says, "Editorial assistance was provided by Sally Laden." If we are going to say that study 329 was not ghostwritten because Sally Laden was acknowledged then there is no point to any of this discussion. What they should have done is put her name in the byline. Its really pretty simple, just call an author an author, which is what the rest of the academic world does.

No competing interests declared.