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Ghostwriting: An Existing Problem

      To the Editor:
      The recent publication on ghostwriting is interesting.
      • Bosch X.
      • Ross J.S.
      Ghostwriting: research misconduct, plagiarism, or fool's gold?.
      I would like to share my experience with this subject. Indeed, ghostwriting may be a common problem that is rarely mentioned. In a recent report, Wislar et al
      • Wislar J.S.
      • Flanagin A.
      • Fontanarosa P.B.
      • Deangelis C.D.
      Honorary and ghost authorship in high impact biomedical journals: a cross sectional survey.
      state that “21% of articles published in major medical journals” might pose the problem of ghost authorship. Although it is accepted that ghost authorship is unethical in medical literature, it is still prevalent for many reasons.
      • Pignatelli B.
      • Maisonneuve H.
      • Chapuis F.
      Authorship ignorance: views of researchers in French clinical settings.
      The high rate of the problem should be discussed. In many cultures, especially in developing countries in Asia, honorary giving as ghost authorship is practiced commonly. This is performed usually to satisfy the senior writer, such as a dean, chancellor, or department head. The junior writer may have to be the ghost author. One may simply be forced to write a paper to serve his/her senior (eg, the student is forced to work for the advisor or the young staff member is forced to work for the mentor). Thus, the management of this problem is difficult because the institute may take no action. The question of how to effectively prevent and manage the problem of ghostwriting remains.

      References

        • Bosch X.
        • Ross J.S.
        Ghostwriting: research misconduct, plagiarism, or fool's gold?.
        Am J Med. 2012; 125: 324-326
        • Wislar J.S.
        • Flanagin A.
        • Fontanarosa P.B.
        • Deangelis C.D.
        Honorary and ghost authorship in high impact biomedical journals: a cross sectional survey.
        BMJ. 2011; 343: d6128
        • Pignatelli B.
        • Maisonneuve H.
        • Chapuis F.
        Authorship ignorance: views of researchers in French clinical settings.
        J Med Ethics. 2005; 31: 578-581

      Linked Article

      • Ghostwriting: Research Misconduct, Plagiarism, or Fool's Gold?
        The American Journal of MedicineVol. 125Issue 4
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          Traditionally, personal integrity and professional accountability have guaranteed appropriate authorship of biomedical journal articles. However, recent controversies, including exposés of ghostwriting and guest authorship, have shown the fallibility of this trust.
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      • The Reply
        The American Journal of MedicineVol. 125Issue 10
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          Wiwanitkit1 raises the issue of unethical authorship practices due to cultural factors in countries such as the developing Asian nations and asks how the problem could be prevented and managed.
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