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March 23/30, 2005

Presidential Candidates’ Commentaries

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(12):1449-1450. doi:10.1001/jama.293.12.1449-a

To the Editor:JAMA published 2 Commentaries on health care, one by Senator John Kerry,1 the other by President George Bush.2 While I commend JAMA for publishing these pieces, I am concerned that it may be violating its own policies regarding authorship. Because I am certain that neither Senator Kerry nor President Bush actually wrote the articles or had even cursory involvement in the review process, I question whether JAMA is establishing a precedent in violation of its existing authorship requirements found in the Instructions for Authors.3 Peer-reviewed journals maintain that “ghost authorship” is inappropriate and consider it a reason for not accepting an article for publication. If JAMA makes exceptions to this policy, as I believe occurred in this case, shouldn’t the reader be advised of that? This would raise the legitimate question of under what circumstances an author should be granted waiver from JAMA’s policy regarding authorship.

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