Ghostwriting occurs when someone has made substantial contributions to writing a manuscript but this role is unacknowledged. In medicine, including oncology, ghostwriting is problematical because it often involves pharmaceutical companies (or the medical communication companies that work for them) producing articles that promote the benefits of their health-care products while playing down their harm, and then masking their involvement in the development of the articles by recruiting academic “guest authors” to lend false credibility and independence.
Because ghostwriting misrepresents authorship credit and accountability, it is considered to be unethical, dishonest, and a threat to the integrity of the medical literature. Fortunately, this previously “hidden” problem has been the focus of increasing research and commentary, including potential solutions to the problem of ghostwriting. Much of this research and commentary has appeared in Public Library of Science (PLoS) journals, which is collected in a centralized PLoS Ghostwriting Collection.
Free access: http://www.ploscollections.org/article/browseIssue.action?issue=info:doi/10.1371/issue.pcol.v07.i15