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August 27, 2008

Guest Authorship, Mortality Reporting, and Integrity in Rofecoxib Studies

JAMA. 2008;300(8):900-906. doi:10.1001/jama.300.8.902-b

To the Editor: I do not believe that it makes sense to differentiate between ghostwriting and guest authoring. In both cases, somebody becomes an author of a publication without substantially writing it, and the contribution of the author may range from doing nothing to correcting some phrases. Given the importance for researchers to convey their own original thoughts, it is necessary to consider why they seem to need other persons to write “their” papers.

Perhaps for some, it is more important to write many papers instead of a few good ones. More likely, it reflects a lack of the full concentration and time required to write an article well, with the competition of patient care, meetings, students, and phone calls. Moreover, not every scientist is fluent in the skills of clear written expression.