Ghostwriting has received a lot of attention recently. To make sure we are talking about the same issues, let’s start with definitions:
Ghostwriting itself is defined by the American Medical Writers Association as presenting the author’s work without being acknowledged. Ghostwriting also refers to authors and is known as ghostauthoring and guestauthoring. These terms are defined as:
- Ghostauthoring is making substantial contributions without being identified as an author.
- Guestauthoring is being named as an author without making substantial contributions to the paper.
Importantly, ghostwriting refers to all of these situations. All should be avoided.
While ghostwriting may bring you extra business and keep you busy. You will not be getting the recognition you deserve for your work. Moreover, in today’s business world, this practice is unethical. In my experience, most clients want to hire ethical writers.
Solution: The solution is to follow the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines for authorship. I review these guidelines at the start of each project, and have all authors and clients I work with agree to these guidelines. As a freelance medical writer, I write this into my contract. My clients are happy to be transparent and agree with the ICMJE guidelines.
Tip: Don’t ghostwrite. Be transparent which means getting credit for your work, building your portfolio of writings with your own name on it and following the ICMJE guidelines for authorship.