A strongly worded editorial appearing in the open access journal Public Library of
Science - Medicine (PLoS Med) suggested the retraction of medical journal articles written by
In Drugs in the News posted August 5, 2009 , ghostwriting was defined as a
pharmaceutical industry practice of contracting with medical communications companies to write
medical journal articles and solicit and pay physicians or pharmacists to be authors. The extent of
ghostwriting in the medical literature is unknown.
The PLoS editorialists ask the poignant
question and give an uncomfortable answer for users of the medical literature:
... can I truly trust as being unbiased?"
A: "... sadly, for some or even many
journal articles, we just don't know."
The PLoS Med editors argue and in our view
correctly "... any papers where this breach [ghostwriting] is substantiated should be
immediately retracted and those authors found to have not declared such interest should be banned
from any subsequent publication in the journal and their misconduct reported to their
Readers interested in exploring ghostwriting in greater detail are
referred to the PLoS Med's Wyeth Ghostwriting Archive at http://www.plosmedicine.org/static/ghostwriting.action.
We asked the reference librarians at the Learning Resource Center if the there
is a method to identify retracted medical journal articles in PubMed. In fact, there is. Retracted
publications are an article type the same way a review or a clinical trial is an article type.
There is a LIMIT box that can be checked for retracted articles or the word "retraction"
can be added to a search. Additional information on the National Library of Medicine's policy on
journal article retractions can be found on their Web site at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/errata.html.
this article in PDF format, click here
For the original PLoS editorial, click here
To download the PLoS editorial, click here
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