News & Opinion

Opinion / Wall Street Journal report on an undercover operation by US congress on institutional review boards

The full piece, published on March 26th, which describes the operation as being a "congressional sting operation" is here, excerpt:

"The sting, detailed at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday, involved the creation of a fictitious company and a fake medical device, a surgical adhesive gel. The sham firm then applied to three for-profit oversight groups — called institutional review boards, or IRBs — for approval to begin a clinical trial using their adhesive on human subjects."

Opinion / Trouble over conflicts of interest leads JAMA to revise its policy

An editorial in JAMA1 describes a case of an author’s undeclared conflict of interest which was reported to the journal by a reader, Jonathan Leo. The reason for the editorial (in addition to a published correction) is that Leo sent a copy of his letter to the New York Times and also posted his concerns in a BMJ Rapid Response2 which appeared before JAMA published its correction in its print issue of March 11.

News / COPE Annual General Meeting

Download the agenda and materials for the COPE AGM held on 27 March 2009 (Download PDF, 21kb).

The minutes of the AGM are available to download here (Download PDF, 76kb).

Opinion / Editorial on bias and competing interests in PLoS Medicine

This month's Editorial (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000038) in PLoS Medicine discusses how the publication of scientific research can be inappropriately influenced by various forms of bias and the effects of competing interests. 

Opinion / Editorial on the Journal of Molecular Medicine's policy on scientific integrity

In their January 2009 Editorial (DOI: 10.1007/s00109-008-0428-x), the Editors of the Journal of Molecular Medicine have laid out what they are doing to protect the integrity of the journal. Steps include a compulsory authorship declaration (Download PDF, 40kb), and screening for image manipulation and for plagiarism.

Opinion / NIH to start policing conflicts of interest?

A report (free to view but registration required) in The Scientist describes the introduction by two US Senators of an amendment to the Economic Stimulus bill currently being debated in Congress which is apparently intended to better protect federally-funded NIH (National Institutes of Health) biomedical research from potential bias.

Opinion / Writers propose a checklist to stamp out ghostwriting

Medical writers from the UK, USA and Australia have developed a checklist that they hope Journal Editors might ask authors to complete to deter unacknowledged or inappropriate writing assistance (or 'ghostwriting'). It has been published in PLoS Medicine (doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000023) with a debate on ghostwriting from editors and researchers.

I should declare my interest, in that I am one of the authors (and definitely not a ghost)!

Opinion / Journal avoids the 're-review nightmare'

The Journal of Biology (published by BioMedCentral) is changing its peer-review process, apparently in response to reviewers and authors who disliked their previous system of sending revised papers back to reviewers for further comment which one described as 'the re-review nightmare'.

You can get more details from http://jbiol.com/content/8/1/1.

Opinion / Ghostbusting at Blood

An Editorial in Blood on the 15th January describes their experience of finding ghost authorship in a spontaneously submitted review article (which was spotted by a diligent reviewer) and the result of subsequent investigations of other papers. They go on to layout their policies on ghost authorship in both review and original research articles, concluding with this call to action:

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