A ghost writer is a person employed to write material for another person,
who is named as author (Concise Oxford English Dictionary). But
the spectre of the ghost falls on all those who help scientists write
papers. The chill swept in from the pharmaceutical companies who covertly
use professional writers to write medical articles for marketing purposes.
To give credence to these articles opinion leaders, who might or might
not have seen the articles, are named as the authors. The writer’s
involvement is undisclosed because journals and readers are known to be
sceptical of industry-supported papers. Exposure of a number of outrages
of this nature led the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
in February of this year to update its guidelines, which now require editors
to ask authors to disclose whether they have received any writing assistance.
The World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) has issued guidelines
to its members on revealing ghost authorship by reporting names to the
media, academic institutions and the WAME listserver. The European Medical
Writers Association (EMWA) has issued guidelines to its members calling
upon them to acknowledge their involvement in the writing of manuscripts.
This presentation will exam the issues surrounding ghost authorship and
disclosure of writing assistance. A lively floor discussion is anticipated.
Langdon-Neuner, writer and editor, Baxter BioScience, has
a science and law background. Her experience in biomedical publications
is on both sides of the fence ? as a managing editor of medical journals
and as a manager in a pharmaceutical company assisting authors in the
preparation of manuscripts for submission to journals. She is editor in
chief of The Write Stuff, the journal of the European Medical
Writers Association, and an editorial board member of European Scientific
Editing, the journal of the European Association of Science Editors.
Her main interests are ethics in scientific publication and the future
of scientific communication.