Editorial Policies to Ensure Honesty and Transparency : Comment on “Ghostwriting Policies in High-Impact Biomedical Journals: A Cross-Sectional Study” | Medical Journals and Publishing | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network
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Editor's Note
May 27, 2013

Editorial Policies to Ensure Honesty and Transparency : Comment on “Ghostwriting Policies in High-Impact Biomedical Journals: A Cross-Sectional Study”

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(10):921-922. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.746

The integrity of the biomedical literature is essential to ensuring that all who seek advances in basic and clinical science have a robust, high-caliber resource from which to draw. It is for this express reason that across the publishing industry, biomedical publishers large and small and editors' groups (eg, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, World Association of Medical Editors, and Committee on Publication Ethics) have taken concerted action to confront the rising incidence of intentional manipulation of the scholarly literature through the use of ghostwriters and the failure to accurately report the roles and contributions of authors, sponsors, and others who are assigned credit for involvement in the research effort. Such action has, in large part, focused on the establishment of editorial policies pertaining to authorship criteria and financial disclosures. That Bosch et al had ample numbers of editorial policies drawn up by biomedical journals to include in a cross-sectional study is a testament to the widespread adoption of these policies and their importance to publishers of medical and scientific research.

At JAMA Internal Medicine, our Instructions for Authors (www.jamainternalmed.com/public/forauthors.aspx) include a detailed outline of our stated editorial policies on authorship and the roles of sponsors and funders. The full intention of this careful outline is to enable authors to respond fully, transparently, and accurately to the requirements for submission and consideration for publication by the journal. Once a group of authors enters a publishing agreement with us—which begins at the time of manuscript submission and consideration of the work by the journal—we require verification of the roles and responsibilities of the authors and those supporting their work. Authors may—and should—refer to the Authorship Criteria section of the Instructions to fulfill this requirement for submission:

Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. One or more of the authors should take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, from inception to publication. Authorship credit should be based only on (1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; and (2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and (3) final approval of the version to be published. Conditions 1, 2, and 3 must all be met.

Authorship, as well as the involvement of any professional medical writer in the publication, must be declared upon original submission of the manuscript.

Such confirmation, and documentation required prior to publication, becomes part of the permanent manuscript records maintained by the publisher. More importantly, they serve as an important first step to ensuring an honest and open relationship among authors who entrust their work to a journal; the journal whose privilege it is to deliver it to the global community; and our readers, who can be assured of the integrity of the information and findings reported.