Case - University of Nevada School of Medicine

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Article in Search of an Author: Exciting Collaboration or Unethical Conduct?
Case inspired by the true story of Adriane Fugh-Berman1
Case written by
Marin Gillis, LPh, PhD, Director of Medical Humanities and Ethics
University of Nevada School of Medicine
Judy Hanrahan, MA
University of Nevada, Reno
1 A. Fugh-Berman. (2005). The corporate coauthor. Journal General Internal Medicine, 20: 546-48.
Page 1
You are a physician practicing internal medicine at a prominent academic medical center
who is becoming a leader in the field of translational malaria research, having published in
mid and top tier medical journals. You have been approached by a private Medical
Education and Communications Company (MECC) to review an article on the negative side
effects of chloroquine (AralenTM), quinine sulfate (QualaquinTM), and hydroxychloroquine
(PlaquenilTM).
Page 2
In a subsequent phone call from a company associate, you are offered a $5,000 honorarium
and the opportunity to have your name listed as first author. The representative also lists
the journals in which they believe the article would likely be published; you are impressed
by the list. The article is accurate and well-written, and since you are in an academic
medical center, having a peer-reviewed publication in a prestigious journal would be
helpful for career advancement.
Page 3
You are immediately suspect, and approach your mentor who informs you that the MECC
has a standing contract with Bristol–Leyers-FibbTM who have recently developed an
artemisinin-derived pharmaceutical that would be directly competing with the treatments
described in the paper. She also informs you about the medical center’s research integrity
policy. Your academic medical center follows the AAMC policy recommendations found in
the “Report on Industry Funding of Medical Education” (2008) which states, “Academic
medical centers should prohibit physicians, trainees, and students from allowing their
professional presentations of any kind, oral or written, to be ghostwritten by any party,
industry, or otherwise” (p. 8). You decline the company’s offer.
Page 4
Some months later, you are surprised to see the name of an old friend of yours from
residency as first author of a review article on malaria treatment side effects in Malaria in
Review, a top tier medical journal. Your interest piqued, you flip to the article only to find
the exact article you were asked to ‘review’ by the medical communications firm.
Page 5
You call your friend and voice your concerns. He does not understand your complaint and
claims that he made substantial contributions to the article after it was offered to him by
the same MECC that contacted you. Since you have the original article you are able to
discern that in fact there were only minor revisions made. You decide to write a formal
business letter to the editor of the journal to explain that you suspect scholarly misconduct
and why scholarly misconduct should be taken seriously by the journal.
Page 6
Assignment
Produce a formal business letter to the editor of Malaria in Review, explain that you suspect
scholarly misconduct and why scholarly misconduct should be taken seriously by the
journal. Your letter should be 1 – 1½ pages.
Editor’s Address:
Jane Addams, MD, PhD, FACP Editor-in-Chief Malaria in Review
c/o Malaria in Review
PO Box 1492
Chicago, IL 60608
You have retained the following (which you need not produce):
 Letter asking you to review the article
 A copy of the article you were originally asked to review
 Your letter declining to be listed as an author
Please follow the format for writing a business letter as indicated by your instructor.
Page 7
Grading Checklist
ID Number:
I.
Word Count:
Style (block, modified
block, or semi-block:
Policies
1. Have I abided by the UNSOM honor pledge and the UNR academic
dishonesty policy when I wrote my letter?
Yes
No
2. Is this letter my original work?
Yes
No
3. Am I handing my letter in on time?
Yes
No
4. Is my letter the appropriate length?
Yes
No
5. Is my letter written in complete English sentences?
Yes
No
6. Is my letter on topic?
Yes
No
7. Is my letter grammatical, properly punctuated, and written in prose
appropriate for a formal business letter? And, have I spellchecked
and proofread my entire letter?
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
10. Am I courteous/respectful when addressing other’s views?
Yes
No
11. Have I named the document containing this checklist and my letter
appropriately?
Yes
No
12. Have I included the date, sender’s address, & inside address?
Yes
No
13. Is the salutation properly addressed & punctuated (i.e., Dr. Juan
Williams:)?
Yes
No
14. Is my paper consistently formatted in either block, modified block, or
semi-block format?
Yes
No
15. Have I used black text and a legible font size (10 pt or 12 pt)?
Yes
No
16. Are the body and closing of my letter written properly (i.e., first
paragraph has a friendly opening and a statement of the main point,
second paragraph begins to justify the importance of the main point,
followed by continued justification, etc.)?
Yes
No
17. Have I properly listed the enclosures?
Yes
No
8. Where appropriate have I included a citation in the format listed
above for each quotation, reference or paraphrase in the letter?
Leave blank if you have no quotations, references or paraphrases.
9. Is my writing clear and straightforward, and concise?
II.
Formatting
X
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