From Peter Suber’s blog. This time a real threat to peer review and quality control
22:26 01/10/2007, Open Access NewsSergio Sismondo, Ghost Management: How Much of the Medical Literature Is Shaped Behind the Scenes by the Pharmaceutical Industry? PLoS Medicine, September 25, 2007. Excerpt:
There are many reports of medical journal articles being researched and written by or on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, and then published under the name of academics who had played little role earlier in the research and writing process. In extreme cases, drug companies pay for trials by contract research organizations (CROs), analyze the data in-house, have professionals write manuscripts, ask academics to serve as authors of those manuscripts, and pay communication companies to shepherd them through publication in the best journals. The resulting articles affect the conclusions found in the medical literature, and are used in promoting drugs to doctors….
This article enlarges the focus from ghost writing to the more general ghost management of medical research and publishing….
Several of the publication planning firms identified are owned by major publishing houses. For example, Excerpta Medica is “an Elsevier business” and writes that its “relationship with Elsevier allows… access to editors and editorial boards who provide professional advice and deep opinion leader networks”. Wolters Kluwer Health draws attention to its publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, with “nearly 275 periodicals and 1,500 books in more than 100 disciplines,” and to Ovid and its other medical information providers, emphasizing the links it can make between its different arms. Vertical integration is attractive in the industry as a whole: at least three of the world’s largest advertising agencies own not only MECCs [medical education and communication companies], but also CROs….
The CMD [an MECC working for Pfizer] document obtained by [David] Healy suggests that during key marketing periods as many as 40% of published articles focusing on specific drugs are ghost managed….
PS: Comment. What’s the OA connection? Some publishers worry out loud and groundlessly that OA will undermine peer review and quality control, but then work with pharma companies to undermine peer review and quality control themselves and profit handsomely from it.
PMR: I have nothing to add except that this is very serious and very depressing. If you want a moral reason why we should adopt OA, this is a large part of it.