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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 43  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 61

Medical ghostwriting

1 Department of Urology, KLES Kidney Foundation, KLES Dr. Prabhakar Kore Hospital and M.R.C, Belagavi, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Biotechnology and Microbiology, Karnatak University, Dharwad, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication18-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Rajendra B Nerli
Department of Urology, KLES Kidney Foundation, KLES Dr. Prabhakar Kore Hospital and M.R.C, Nehru Nagar, Belagavi - 590 010, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-5009.182594

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How to cite this article:
Nerli RB, Magdum PV, Ghagane SC. Medical ghostwriting. J Sci Soc 2016;43:61

How to cite this URL:
Nerli RB, Magdum PV, Ghagane SC. Medical ghostwriting. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Mar 31];43:61. Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2016/43/2/61/182594

"Ghost authoring" refers to making substantial contributions without being identified as an author. "Guest authoring" refers to being named as an author without having made substantial contributions. "Ghostwriting" refers to assisting in presenting the author's work without being acknowledged. The term "ghostwriting" is often used to encompass all three of these practices. These are the definitions of medical ghostwriting as per the American Medical Writers Association.

The rules for authorship and contribution were well-defined at the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors' (ICMJE) first meeting at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. These are a single, universally respected set of guidelines for describing authorship of and contribution to professional medical publications. These documents define the role of "authors and contributors" and are considered to be the definitive statement of ethical requirements for how authorship in medical journal articles and the degree to which a given writer is deemed to have contributed to the content of a medical journal article are determined. Compliance with the requirements of biomedical journals is voluntary. It is largely a self-policed matter as to how closely individual medical journals and authors of medical journal articles comply with the ICMJE guidelines.

What is wrong with medical ghostwriting? Nothing. But in the world of academic studies in general and the field of research in particular, ghostwriting is also considered to be a form of plagiarism, an unethical behavior, which could even go as far as to cause health problems for the population, with corresponding legal repercussions. A ghostwriter is frequently used by university students who must present a piece of written work to enable them to graduate and write a Master's and even a postgraduate thesis. Because of such practices, "paper-writing factories" have come into existence, which levy a charge to write all kinds of academic works. Many such ghostwriting factories have sprung up in the last few years and moreover, these services are offered at a price. This becomes more critical in the field of academic research.

We must all agree to the fact that medical ghostwriting can constitute serious unethical behavior and could also be a form of plagiarism. In the case of a doctoral thesis produced by a ghostwriter, the candidate fraudulently presents the work of another as his/her own. This action is defrauding to both the institution, which awarded the degree as well as future employers for whom the possession of a Ph.D is a requirement for the job.

The ICMJE establishes definitive requirements for authorship in journal articles, trying to discourage unethical practices, giving guidelines to journal editors on how to indicate the contribution made by each author of an article. The World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) considers ghostwriting to be dishonest and unacceptable. Ghostwriters are generally paid by companies with commercial interests in the particular subject.


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