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, 6 (1), 257-73

Medical Ghost-Writing


Medical Ghost-Writing

Elise Langdon-Neuner. Mens Sana Monogr.


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.

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

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest

Elise Langdon-Neuner is a medical writer in a basic research department at a pharmaceutical company (editing drafts prepared by researchers). She has also worked as a managing editor for medical journals. She was a member of EMWA's ghost-writing task force whose consultation process resulted in the drafting of EMWA's guidelines on the role of medical writers in developing peer-reviewed publications.

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