ProScribe Medical Communications - Original research on declaration of medical writing assistance in international, peer-reviewed publications

Jane McDonald

21 June 2006

During the June meeting we covered several issues relating to the ethical use of medical writers in manuscript preparation. Medical writers can help authors who have limited time for manuscript preparation or authors who may not have the expertise or language skills required to prepare a timely, high quality manuscript.

We noted relevant guidelines, discussed a growing mistrust in published research, and highlighted the role of professional medical writers when collaborating with authors.

We also discussed the role of medical writers when responding to peer review comments and working with authors to finalise resubmission.

Jane presented ProScribefs original research data from the 5th International Peer Review and Biomedical Congress, Sept 2005, (pending publication). The study objective was to quantify the proportion of articles from international, peer-reviewed, high-ranking journals that declared medical writing assistance.

This stimulated debate on the proportion of undeclared medical writing assistance, particularly for authors who do not have English as their first language.

In addition to the URM guidelines, we noted other sources of information on the role of professional medical writers:

The responsibilities of authors were also discussed. All three of the following conditions MUST be met for authorship

We examined recent statements encouraging the declaration of medical writing assistance and the need to eradicate the unethical practice of ghostwriting. Please see guidelines from the British Medical Journal for further information.

In summary, we enjoyed an overview of the role of professional medical writers and the support they can provide to authors, including native English speakers!

Medical writers should understand the guidelines that affect their profession and ensure their work is acknowledged.

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