Ethics and Publishing

Things have been kind of hectic for me lately.  I have been working on MLA’s Official Blog for the Annual Meeting and I recently moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.  Add in my regular work and life events and I have been one busy person.  So I apologize if I am a little late addressing this recent news item, but I have been wanting to blog about it for some time.

It was recently discovered that Elsevier published six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored and by a drug company.  The publications were made to look like peer reviewed medical journals and the sponsorship behind the journals was not disclosed. 

According to a post by Bob Grant on The (free with free registration) Elsevier is conducting an “internal review.”  The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine is at the heart of the allegations.  The publications were paid for by Merck and the contents were basically a “compendium of reprinted scientific articles and one source reviews, most of which presented data favorable to Merck’s products.” 

According to an Elsevier spokesperson, the sponsored article publications were put out by the Australia office, bore the Excerpta Medica imprint from 2000-2005 and published under the titles; Australasian Journal of General Practice, the Australasian Journal of Neurology, the Australasian Journal of Cardiology, the Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, the Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, and the Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint [Medicine].

This story is continually evolving.  Since broke the story, op-ed columns and blogs have been weighing in on the topic.  Slashdot pointsto two interesting posts by librarian bloggers Bibliographic Wilderness and Laika’s MedLibLog.  Ben Goldacre wrote in The Guardian about information emerging in an Australian court case regarding a Merck and Vioxx case.  The information revealed email documentation of a “hit list” of doctors critical of the company or the drug.   According to The Guardian the hit list included words such as “neutralise”, “neutralised” and “discredit” next to the doctors’ names.  Goldacre reports that subsequent emails described other unethical tactics such as interfering with academic appointments and reducing funding.  Of course Elsevier is not the only publisher to have been accused of these type of tactics.  The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reported on JAMA’s actions last spring when two professors contacted JAMA regarding an article where the author may have had a possible conflict of interest and later then published a Rapid Response in BMJ regarding possible connections between the author of JAMA article and the drug company. 

All of this is very unsettling.  Now that the horse is out of the barn and Elsevier has admitted to publishing sponsored articles and falsely presenting them peer reviewed, what happens?  Are there any real repercussions?  What is to stop the next drug company from doing the same thing (only better so we don’t find out)? How do we get those junk articles out of the medical system.  They are already out there printed in the real world, how is the average physician who doesn’t read blogs going to know about them?  The mainstream media (Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC) and other news agencies have been curiously quite regarding this, yet I hear about the stupid swine flu every time I turn on the T.V.  If you think the average doctor reading the articles should just “know” you might be wrong.  According to testimony in a trial, George Jelinek, Australian physician and member of the World Association of Medical Editors, said the “average reader” could easily mistake the publication for “genuine” peer reviewed medical journal. 

So what happens next? Is there anyway to right the wrong?

Keeping Up With Events at MLA

We have created several different ways for you to keep up to date with information and events at MLA. 

The Official MLA Blog– We have 21 people who have volunteered to dedicate their time to writing and posting information about the conference.

MLA20o9 Twitter Account – Follow live discussions, comments and questions that are happening at the conference on Twitter.  You don’t need a Twitter account to do this but it is helpful if you do.

If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can go to and watch the discussion.

If you do have a Twitter account and you want to participate, the easiest method is to follow MLA20o9. Then go to TweetChat.  Login using your Twitter login and password and then type in mla09 for the room.  TweetChat will allow you to watch and (participate if you want) all discussions that use the #mla09 hashtag. 

  • REMEMBER to use the hashtag #mla09 when posting something about MLA on Twitter. 
  • If your Twitter updates are protected on your account (this feature is under Settings) then others will NOT be able to view your tweets and you won’t be able to ask questions or participate in discussions very effectively.  You can always protect your tweets after the conference.

You can use Twitter’s web page to participate (you have to hit Refresh to get updates) and there are several software programs that make the Twitter experience a little more interactive.  Some of like  twhirl and TweetDeck must be installed on your computer.  TweetChat is a web program (no install required) that allows you to watch a specific discussion on Twitter.  For those of you with iPhones Tweetie ($2.99) and TwitterFon (free) are two popular apps.

MLA 2009 Flickr Group – View photos taken at the meeting.

If you aren’t at the meeting you can view the photos by going to

If you are at the meeting and taking pictures, please consider posting them on flickr under the MLA 2009 Group  If you have a flickr account click on Groups and then search for MLA 2009. You must post your photos first to your account then add them to the Group by clicking on each phonto then clicking on the icon “Send to Group” which is located just above the picture.

Blogging at MLA

Applications to be an Official Blogger at MLA were due Friday April 24th. I want to thank everyone who applied to be a blogger. I am excited because we have 21 great people who will be blogging from the MLA Annual Meeting. It is my sincere hope that our posts will help keep people in touch with information and events at the meeting.
So without further ado, here are your bloggers:
  • Ellen Aaronson
  • Alison Aldrich
  • Helen-Ann Brown Epstein
  • Shamsha Damani
  • Melissa De Santis
  • Jacque Doyle
  • Rosalind Dudden
  • Marcia Francis
  • Karen Heskett
  • Annie M Hughes
  • Mary K. Joyce
  • Michelle Kraft
  • Brenda Linares
  • Laura McLellan
  • Bart Ragon
  • Melissa Ratajeski
  • Gabe Rios
  • Heidi Schroeder
  • Emily Vardell
  • Rachel Walden
  • Beth Whipple

Go to the MLA Official Blog to see their picture and read their bios.  If you are in Hawaii and happen to see one of us, say hi.

Krafty Librarian Under Construction

As you may or may not have noticed my blog hadn’t been updated for about a week or so.  It turns out I have been working towards migrating my blog from Blogger to WordPress.  It was a little bumpy and I didn’t know that it would happen when it did so I wasn’t able to give any advance notice.

Thankfully Blake at LISHost has been very helpful getting things straightened out.

Bear with me while I begin repopulating the blog with my old posts (hopefully the comments too).  Things will still be a little bumpy but I hope to have things ironed out soon. 

In the meantime don’t forget to go to the MLA Official Blog for news and information at the Annual Meeting.