News & Opinion
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.
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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:
A new report by the Office of Inspector General at the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests that the FDA (the US Food and Drug Administration) is not effectively monitoring conflicts of interests of clinical trial investigators in new drug marketing applications submitted to them. The report, summarised in an article on Medscape, is available here.
Its top findings were:
We hope COPE members will find the new audit tool helpful. Journal Editors who were involved with the pilot said it was useful and one said it covered things she'd been meaning to do for ages! Although we're not asking you to share your findings with us (it's an audit not a survey), we would welcome any comments on how we could improve the audit, so I thought I'd start this blog string so you can add your comments or suggestions.