Beware the Faux Medical Journals

When is a “Journal” … not a Journal?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™


Allow me to begin this post by making the unusual disclosure that I was the Editor-in-Chief of a print guide in healthcare finance and economics [aka periodical or journal].

Formally, the title was: Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies]. At 2 volumes, and more than 1,200 pages, it was quite a job to update it quarterly. And, with more than two dozen contributing authors, it was a labor of love indeed. Alas … no more!


Varying Levels of Credibility

Now, we doctors know that medical journals are not all alike. There are different levels of “credibility.” Some are peer-reviewed, others not. Some are trade magazines. Frankly, some “real” journals are better, and more respected than others. Some entrenched journals are in decline, while other emerging journals are leading-edge in the health 2.0 space. Still others, like the formerly esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA], have been accused of outright censorship.



Of course, doctors also know that pharmaceutical companies routinely offer us reprints of articles from medical journals that are favorable to their products. But, news of a Merck-sponsored publication for doctors in Australia has come to light in a personal injury lawsuit over Vioxx. It raised more than a few eyebrows in international medical publishing circles. It may have even crossed the line of journalistic, not to mention medical, ethics.

Read: Merck Paid for Medical ‘Journal’ Without Disclosure; by Natasha Singer, May 13, 2009.



Tracy Staton wrote more about these mis-adventures in a story, dated May 14, 2009, in FiercePharma.

Analysis and Apology

Analysis in the Pipeline:

Libology Mea Culpa:


Perhaps; Merck ought to read our Medical-Executive Post on health journalists?


Or, our Medical-Executive Post on medical experts, reporters and journalists?



Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.


Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact:


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Product Details  Product Details

Product Details

12 Responses

  1. Dr. Marcinko,

    Industry Conflicts Common in Cancer Studies

    Did you know that according to Kevin B. O’Reilly, of the AMNews on May 25, 2009, medical journal articles published by authors with financial conflicts are more likely to have positive outcomes. Yes, it is true says a new study by Reshma Jagsi, MD, PhD. Doctor Jagsi is the study’s lead author and assistant professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School.


    Nearly a third of oncology studies published in influential journals are authored by researchers with financial conflicts of interest, according to the May 11 study published online by the journal Cancer.

    And so, unfortunately your criticisms seems increasingly true.

    Dr. Gupta Singh


  2. ME-P Subscribers,

    You may read more on drug companies and health journalists, at this lnk:.



  3. ME-P Subscribers,

    Did you know that up to 10 percent of the articles in the most prestigious medical journals were written by unacknowledged, industry-funded ghostwriters?

    Yep! That’s the conclusion of a new study released by the editors of The Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA]; as seen in this NYT article.

    Ann Miller; RN, MHA
    [Executive Director]


  4. Drug Company Used Ghostwriters for Works Bylined by Academics?

    Newly released documents show how medical ghostwriters, paid for by a UK drug company, penned material published in medical journals and even a textbook.

    Now, can you guess which UK drug company it was?

    So, what-up with the faux writers?



  5. The Bias of “Free” Medical Journals

    It seems to be getting more and more difficult for physicians to gain access to unbiased information about the medications they prescribe–especially when that information is provided for free.

    So, does this mean they are actually very expensive?



  6. Dr. Marcinko – Last week, a U.S. Senate committee launched an investigation into reports that doctors with financial ties to Medtronic were aware of serious complications with the product yet failed to reveal those problems in medical journal articles.

    And, now the reports that led to the investigation have been published.

    Is this another faux journal in-the-making?



  7. More on Peer Review

    A few weeks back, the LSE Impact blog had a piece by Jason Priem on the use of twitter by academics that suggested peer review journals might become a thing of the past.

    Then, our colleague Austin Frakt PhD wrote a brief post noting that as much as we love twitter, the role of peer review journals cannot be replaced by twitter, blogs or anything else (and we really believe in blogs!). We need the slow deliberative process that emphasizes trying to get it right, as opposed to doing it quickly.

    We absolutely need the slow, peer review system as the foundation of thoughtful, careful scholarship. Twitter and other social media are important additions that can give scholarly content “reach” and “relevancy”. However, it’s a both/and, not an either/or proposition.

    Traditional peer review journals should remain the bedrock of the research evidence that can be brought to bear on health policy.

    At the ME-P, we agree with Austin. How about you?

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™


  8. Heart researcher falsified red wine study, officials say

    A University of Connecticut researcher known for his work on red wine’s benefits to cardiovascular health falsified his data in more than 100 instances, and nearly a dozen scientific journals are being warned of the potential problems after publishing his studies in recent years.

    But, it’s not immediately clear whether the issues with the research would alter study conclusions.

    Ann Miller RN MHA


  9. Corruption of the medical literature is impossible to prevent

    Or, is it?



  10. Predatory Publishing?

    According to Dina McKelvy [health science librarian], Jeffrey Beall is a research librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver who has undertaken a critical analysis of open access journal publishing, and maintains a list of publishers he believes are predatory.

    Journal titles in a discipline may have very similar titles, and with the publishing world growing so rapidly, clinicians can be easily confused. His article, published in Nature, provides a checklist to help authors watch for predators: look closely at author fees, read sample articles, and contact members of the editorial board. Approach the process with healthy skepticism and common sense.

    Health science librarians are aware of the new landscape of open access. Include them in your publishing process – they can research and explain details such as the journal’s impact factor, and help you investigate a publisher.

    Professor Hope Rachel Hetico RN MHA


  11. How journals are damaging science

    A thoughtful and provocative piece over at the “Guardian” via the “Incidental Economist.”

    I am a scientist. Mine is a professional world that achieves great things for humanity. But it is disfigured by inappropriate incentives. The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best. Those of us who follow these incentives are being entirely rational – I have followed them myself – but we do not always best serve our profession’s interests, let alone those of humanity and society.

    We all know what distorting incentives have done to finance and banking. The incentives my colleagues face are not huge bonuses, but the professional rewards that accompany publication in prestigious journals – chiefly Nature, Cell and Science.

    Go read the whole thing. Totally worth your time. We are having a hard time disagreeing with the piece.

    Hope R. Hetico RN MHA


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: