Working with a medical writer
Professional medical writers are often involved in developing publications, especially those reporting industry-funded research. Investigators and journal editors are uncomfortable about this practice, considering that it may encourage undue influence by the trial sponsor in presenting the results and introducing bias, or may lead to problems of ghost and guest authorship. The writer may also be more aware of differences of opinion within the group than the members themselves. Disadvantages of involving a medical writer include: money; lack of specialist knowledge; and acknowledgement. The job description 'medical writer' should not be interpreted too narrowly – some of the skills that a professional writer brings to a writing group are those of project management and coordination. Medical writers are usually good communicators with a broad biomedical background. When working with a professional writer, the authors need to provide detailed input to the introduction and discussions. It is unfair to expect writers to act as mediators in disagreements between sponsors and investigators.