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Medical editors issue guidance on ghost writing

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7498.988-a (Published 28 April 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:988
  1. Lynn Eaton
  1. London

    The World Association of Medical Editors has tightened its policy on ghost writing of medical research papers after a US journal highlighted what it alleges were illegitimate ghost writing practices, although it has been denied that the paper in question was an example of the practice.

    Ghost writing, says the association, is “unacceptable.” But it accepts that professional medical writers can be legitimate contributors to an article and says that their roles and affiliations should always be described in the manuscript.

    “Ghost writing initiated by industry is a big concern,” said Robert Fletcher, chairman of the association's editorial policy board and professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School. “When it is undetected, it distorts the scientific record, substituting marketing and persuasion for the balanced exchange of views and the search for sound answers that characterise the contents of medical journals at their best.”

    Dr …

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