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Editorial

Ghostwriting: The Dirty Little Secret of Medical Publishing That Just Got Bigger

  • Published: September 08, 2009
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000156
  • Featured in PLOS Collections

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When Transparency can get muddied

Posted by susanne on 24 Oct 2009 at 13:30 GMT

What to do when publications in non-medical forums are lifted and published in medical as well as other publications such as newspapers without conforming to the same stringent guidelines?- These do not amount to ghost writing but are quite similar in some respects. For example declarations of interests are not obligitory. A huge spread of infformation can take place without declaration of interests being made clear. For example a critical report was published recently by a socialist campaigning group. It was funded by a Socialist Charitable Trust which includes medics and others who have their own agendas ,for example have interests in the psychotherapy industry, which in some areas is in conflict with the pharmaceutical industry but this was not declared. It is not clear who actually commissioned the report as this was not declared either. One Trust member was thanked for his help but that he was a Board member of the Trust which provided the funds for the research was not declared. One Editor of a medical Journal sees no problem with these ommissions but it has meant in this case that interests are obfiscated and the report itself has had massive publicity through copying the resport through political and other networks. The general readership will have no idea of linkss, interests and relationships involved in drawing up the report and understandably will not be aware of the need to check behind the scenes of everything they read especially when it has been legitimised in 'respectable'publications.

Competing interests declared: These points have been rejected as being 'incoherent' by another UK medical journal