Ghostwriting at top journals falls 31%

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 7, 2011

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The proportion of ghost-written articles published in leading medical journals fell by nearly a third between 1996 and 2008, according to a study published Oct. 25 in the journal BMJ (link).

In 2008, 7.9% of articles at six leading general medical journals were written with help from ghost authors -- writers not credited according to International Committee of Medical Journal Editors criteria for authorship. That was down 31% from an 11.5% rate of ghostwriting in 1996, said the study, based on a survey of corresponding authors for articles published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere.

The practice of giving writing credit to authors who do no work on an article, known as honorary authorship, also fell, declining 8% to 17.6% of published articles. Greater efforts are needed to promote transparent authorship credits, said the study's authors, all of whom are affiliated with JAMA.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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