The ghostwriting controversy that has embroiled drugmakers (seehere and here) is threatening to engulf universities, some of which are already under the microscope for failing to manage conflicts of interest involving academic researcheres.
Now Yale University's School of Medicine is issuing a reminder to its faculty to avoid the practice. The step comes shortly after the Senate Finance Committee, which has spearheaded numerous investigations into the drug and device industries, wrote 10 top medical schools to ask what they’re doing about the issue. The schools contacted also include Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Washington University, University of California at San Francisco, Duke, Stanford, University of Washington and Columbia (back story). Here's what the dean at Yale's School of Medicine wrote yesterday:
From: Dean Robert J. Alpern [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 4:08 PM To: YSM Faculty and Students Subject: Authorship and "Medical Ghostwriting" in Academic Publishing
As you are probably aware, the issue of authorship and "medical ghostwriting" in academic publishing has been in the news recently. It has been reported that review articles, editorials, and research papers drafted on behalf of drug and device makers are being published with co-authors who are prominent academic physicians and scientists but who have not contributed to the research and may not be familiar with the supporting data and methodology.
This practice is strictly contrary to the values and principles of academic medicine and is prohibited by existing Yale University policy. Investigators listed as authors on a paper must have contributed significantly to the work. All co-authors should have been directly involved in all three of the following:
1.Planning some component of the work which led to the paper or interpreting at least a portion of the results, 2.Writing a draft of the article or revising it for intellectual content, and 3.Reviewing and approving the manuscript before it is submitted for publication. All authors should have final approval of the version to be published.
I encourage you to review the authorship section in the "Guidelines for the Responsible Conduct of Research at Yale School of Medicine," available on the Yale website (see here).
These principles speak to the very high standards of YSM faculty and students and the values that we all share as members of the academic community.
Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D. Ensign Professor of Medicine
Ghost from Flickr Creative Commons mattwi1s0n