Lacasse JR, Leo J. Ghostwriting at elite academic medical centers in the United States. PLoS Med 2010 Feb 2;7(2):e1000230
Ghostwriting can no more be defined as the “dirty little secret” of the medical literature. Over the past several years medical writers, journals and editors’ associations (i.e. ICMJE and WAME) have highlighted the problem, developing a specific policy on ghostwriting and requiring contributorship statements for authors.
But what has been done by medical centers and associations? In this article, Larcasse and Leo evaluated the policies of the top-50 academic medical centers in the United States, finding that only 20% explicitly prohibit ghostwriting. The Authors propose an unambiguous policy that clearly regulates medical ghostwriting. Administrators of academic medical centers should insist on this point, and should define medical ghostwriting as dishonest, unacceptable, and comparable to misconduct.
By prohibiting ghostwriting, academic medical centers can cooperate with editors and publishers in improving research integrity.