Today, Pacific Standard published an insightful and disturbing look into the world of academic ghostwriting — a nefarious and not-too-uncommon industry tactic.
* “Ghostwriting remains pervasive in some areas of academic research; in 2010, I helped author a Senate report on the matter. Studies drafted by corporations and then published in scientific journals with academic authors have been used to sway government decisions, court cases, and even medical practice. A host of universities have been caught in ghostwriting scandals, including Harvard University, Brown University, Stanford University, and Emory University.”
* “Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (published by the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, or ISRTP) is a vanity journal that publishes mercenary science created by polluters and producers of toxic chemicals to manufacture uncertainty about the science underlying public-health and environmental protections.” says David Michaels, professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health. (Michaels recently returned to this position after serving as the administrator of the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration.)”
* “I began studying the ISRTP’s membership and journal, and combing through the minutes of the society’s meetings.The year before the journal published the Roundup study, the society held its June 1999 council meeting in the Washington, D.C., office of Keller and Heckman, the chief law firm for the chemical industry.”
* “In a recent court case, for example, Keller and Heckman represented the Vinyl Institute in a lawsuit to roll back 2012 regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency limiting toxics emitted during PVC production. Keller and Heckman also bills itself as the premier law firm for the tobacco and e-vapor industries. The minutes from the June meeting note a member of Keller and Heckman attending along with representatives of several chemical industry trade associations. Minutes from February 2002 also record the meeting taking place in Keller and Heckman’s D.C. office and state that future meetings will also be held at the law firm.”
*”“Having its meetings hosted by a corporate law firm is so obviously inappropriate — unless you aren’t so much a scientific society as a faux-science outlet for the corporate clients and funders of the journal’s authors,” says Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist who specializes in chemical policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council and is another of the 2002 letter signatories.”
* “Examining the journal’s editorial board, Sheldon Krimsky, a professor at Tufts University who studies conflicts of interest and corporate influence on science, notes that industry consultants litter the journal’s masthead. Indeed, the journal’s editor is Gio Gori, a former consultant for the tobacco industry. In 1998, Gori partnered with Steven J. Milloy of JunkScience.com in a letter to Science magazine criticizing a story about tobacco consultants.”
* “Corporations regularly buy academics to do their bidding, recasting industry talking points to create the beginnings of an alternative scientific canon. Universities do little to stop it, while academic journals, sometimes prestigious, are often complicit. Perhaps public shame remains the most — or only — effective medicine.”