Scientific Ghostwriting Documents Now Available at PLoS Medicine

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | August 21, 2009 11:08 am

Remember scientific ghostwriting? Today PLoS Medicine posted an editorial to coincide with the ghostwriting documents just released on their site. It begins:

If you are an editor, author, reviewer, or reader of medical journals, or if you depend on your doctor or health care provider getting unbiased information from medical journals, then the 1,500 documents now hosted  on the PLoS Medicine Web site should make you very concerned and angry. Because, quite simply, the story told in these documents amounts to one of the most compelling expositions ever seen of the systematic manipulation and abuse of scholarly publishing by the pharmaceutical industry and its commercial partners in their attempt to influence the health care decisions of physicians and the general public.

Further down the page:

The documents that have been made available are a substantial step forward in advancing knowledge of this practice and explaining the mechanics of how ghostwriting campaigns are organized, and will add to the evidence base. By making them easily and openly accessible we hope that others will quickly delve into the documents and analyze them in detail (we have yet not done so in the interest of speed in making them publicly available). But we also hope that the papers not only will become the subject of academic scrutiny but will help to guide the way to identifying reforms that will eventually stamp ghostwriting out.  In an environment in which drug companies are beholden to their shareholders, and the drive for profit takes center stage, it is naïve to think that companies will put their own houses in order.

In other words, we may be seeing a paradigm shift when it comes to ethics and accountability. It’s too soon to know, but read the entire editorial and stop by the freely available ghostwriting archive to get a taste of what’s going on…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Media and Science

Comments (4)

Links to this Post

  1. And, In Other PLoS News… « Pasco Phronesis | August 22, 2009
  1. Erasmussimo

    It seems unfortunate to me that the term “ghostwriting” has been used here, because the term normally describes a process in which a talented writer collaborates with a poor writer who has important things to say to produce a book combining interesting experiences with good writing. In this case, I would think that “sock puppet writing” would be a more apt term.

  2. According to my as yet unpublished personal research, sunshine is a wonderful disinfectant. Let the sun shine in. [ Hair… Lyricist James Rado]

  3. gillt

    Sheril: “In other words, we may be seeing a paradigm shift…”

    See here: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/08/18/the-index-of-banned-words/

    :)

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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