Haunted manuscripts: ghost authorship in the medical literature
Ngai S, Gold JL, Gill SS, Rochon PA.
Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit,
Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care,
3560 Bathurst Street, Toronto,
Ontario, M6A 2E1, Canada.
Account Res. 2005 Apr-Jun;12(2):103-14.


Ghost authorship occurs when an individual who contributed substantially to a manuscript is not named in the byline or acknowledgments. Ghost authors may be employed by industry to prepare clinical trial results for publication. An expert is then "hired" as author so as to lend an air of credibility and neutrality to the manuscript. Ghost authorship is difficult to detect, and most articles that have been identified as ghostwritten were revealed as such only after investigative work by lawyers, journalists, or scientists. Ghost authorship is ethically questionable in that it may be used to mask conflicts of interest with industry. As it has been demonstrated that industry sponsorship of clinical trials may be associated with outcomes favorable to industry, this is problematic. Evidence-based medicine requires that clinical decisions be based on empirical evidence published in peer-reviewed medical journals. If physicians base their decisions on dubious research data, this can have negative consequences for patients. Ghost authorship also compromises academic integrity. A "film credit" concept of authority is one solution to the problems posed by ghost authorship. Other approaches have been taken by the United Kingdom and Denmark. A solution is necessary, as the relationship between authorship and accountability must be maintained.
Big Pharma
'Publication bias'
Ghost authorship
Medical ghostwriting
The David Healy Affair
He who pays the piper...?
Ghostwriting in medical publications
Is antidepressant efficacy overrated?
Industry sponsorship and trial outcomes
Drug companies, doctors and medical corruption
The role of pharmaceutical company gifts to doctors
Medical writers in the pay of pharmaceutical companies
Ghost marketing and ghostwriting in peer-reviewed medical journals
Ghost authorship, gift authorship, non-disclosure and conflicts of interest
Are commonly prescribed "new generation" antidepressants little better than placebos?
Selective publication of clinical trials leads to unrealistic estimates of antidepressant efficacy

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