Don't get spooked! How to collaborate with a professional medical communicator (and avoid ghostwriting)

Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2010 Aug;58(4):255-61. doi: 10.1007/s00005-010-0080-3. Epub 2010 May 28.


Substantial confusion exists about the role of medical writers and editors (hereafter, medical communicators) in medical publication. Much of the confusion is due to the failure to recognize the difference between terms. Ghostwriting is unethical, whereas professional medical communication refers to legitimate writing and editing services provided by individuals who comply with ethical guidelines. The purpose of this article is to shed light on this subject by reviewing relevant guidelines and by providing practical tips for authors interested in collaborating with medical communicators. Specifically, this article addresses a series of questions, such as what to expect from medical communicators, how to evaluate them, and how to collaborate ethically and efficiently with them. To ensure that the process is ethical, authors should begin collaborating with the medical communicator early in the process, continue doing so throughout manuscript development, and control manuscript content. In addition, authors should disclose substantial contributions and funding sources of the medical communicator and all other individuals not meeting authorship criteria. To ensure that the process is efficient, authors should delegate time-consuming technical writing and editing tasks to the medical communicator.

MeSH terms

  • Authorship*
  • Editorial Policies
  • Humans
  • Journalism, Medical* / standards
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Publishing* / ethics
  • Publishing* / standards