Another installment of Ask Retraction Watch:
I am a postdoc and looking to supplement my income with medical writing (our lab recently didn’t get it’s funding renewed, so now on part-time to minimise costs). The most recent jobs I have been offered are two brief reports and one full article. A quick internet search of the person who contacted me shows they are in science and are genuinely wanting papers written (a number are already in print from a variety of peer reviewed journals). But my question is this. Is it ethical to ghost-write a paper? I should note that not only have I been asked to write it, but also to analyse the data and write something that mirrors a paper from 2007. The person in question has openly stated they don’t have all the data/conclusions yet, but they “like” a particular hypothesis.
My personal feeling is this is unethical and dishonest – authorship disputes on papers can turn nasty in even the most civilised of labs. It appears this is not the first time such proposals have been made, which begs the question, are any of the papers already in print ghost-written? I have declined the work as I do not agree with it, but I wondered what other researchers thoughts were on this? Is this a hidden problem and potential can of worms/grounds for retraction?
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