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Research Letter
May 27, 2013

Ghostwriting Policies in High-Impact Biomedical Journals: A Cross-Sectional Study

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Internal Medicine, Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(10):920-921. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.339

Although sound authorship of biomedical journal articles relies on personal and professional integrity and accountability, recent controversies concerning ghostwriting and guest authorship have shown that this approach has limitations.1

Ghostwriting and guest authorship are often linked to academic-industry collaborations. Typically, industry-sponsored professional writers prepare complete articles, which are then presented to senior, often expert, academics who submit the article in their own name (perhaps after some editing) and are often reimbursed.1

Although biomedical journals have led the way in drawing up editorial policies, ghostwriting policies have not been analyzed. We aimed to assess the prevalence and content of ghostwriting policies in the most influential biomedical journals.