Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to write badly

"Modern academics are not celebrated for the clarity and felicity of their writing. One of the most important lessons a postgraduate student can learn—and if he doesn’t learn it soon, he’s doomed—is that academics generally do not write books and articles for the purpose of expressing their ideas as clearly as possible for the benefit of people who don’t already understand and agree with them. Academics don’t write to be read; they write to be published. Typically, the only people who actually read academic books and articles are other academics, who only read them to know what they need to reference in their own books and articles. And that’s not reading; that’s trawling."

Barton Swaim, who is definitely not a bad writer, explains, in The Weekly Standard.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pharma's Bioethicists: The Final Episode

The last part of my interview with Jenny Dyck Brian on corporate bioethics boards for the Chronicle is up.  Read it here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Conference: "Patient or Subject? The Ethics of Translational Research"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM (Central Time)

Northwestern University
Wieboldt Hall room 147
340 E Superior St.
Chicago, Illinois 60611
United States

Registration is free.  More here. 

How medical training will transform you into a bully

And why efforts to fix the training system have failed.  (By Pauline Chen, writing in the NY Times.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

No punishment for GSK academic physicians?

GlaxoSmithKline has admitted fraud, but the academic physicians it paid to help with the fraud have not been sanctioned.  Howard Brody weighs in.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Celltex: fact vs fiction

Leigh Turner sorts it out.

GSK admits papers were fraudulent but researchers escape unscathed

When GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay a record-setting $3 billion fine last month,  it admitted that the notorious Study 329 was part of the fraud.  Why won't Brown University take action against the researcher?  Why won't the journal that published the study retract it?  Read about it in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When muckraking fails

Our research oversight system is a failure. Yet no one seems to notice.  Why not?

Best in Show

In "Watchdogs or Show Dogs?" Jenny Dyck Brian discusses her work on pharma's bioethicists.  Read it on the Chronicle of Higher Education Brainstorm blog.

Junior Scholars in Bioethics Workshop

The Center for Bioethics, Health and Society at Wake Forest University is pleased to announce the second Junior Scholars in Bioethics Workshop. The Workshop gives junior (untenured) faculty working in bioethics an opportunity to present works-in-progress to scholars in bioethics and related fields.  Commentators will provide constructive feedback to presenters with the goal of fostering scholarship in bioethics.

 Works-in-progress will be read in advance by a group of experienced scholars in bioethics and related fields. Each author will present the paper during the workshop. The assigned reviewers will provide oral feedback and then the rest of the audience will be invited to participate in offering feedback and asking questions.  The expectation is that this discussion will assist scholars in revising their papers prior to submitting them for publication.

Junior faculty working in bioethics in the United States are invited to submit abstracts/summaries of 500-750 words of the proposed paper along with a curriculum vitae.  Papers should be works-in-progress that have not already been accepted for publication and that will not be submitted for publication until after the workshop at Wake Forest University. A committee of scholars will select three papers for presentation at the Junior Scholars in Bioethics Workshop.  Authors will be required to submit a full draft of the paper in advance of the workshop to allow peer reviewers sufficient time to read the papers and prepare their comments.

The Center for Bioethics, Health and Society will reimburse advanced purchase coach airfare or mileage and provide lodging and meals for scholars whose works-in-progress are selected for presentation.  It is expected the scholars will be present to participate in the discussion of all papers.


November 1, 2012: Submission of  Abstracts/Summaries
(500-750 words) and CVs. Submissions should be emailed to Ana Iltis, Ph.D.
December 3, 2012: Notification of Selection of Scholars.

February 11, 2013: Full draft of papers due. Drafts should be emailed to Ana Iltis, Ph.D. at: Bioethics@wfu.edu

March 21-23, 2013: Bioethics Scholars Workshop.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"The American Journal of Bioethics apologizes for these errors"

The editors of the American Journal of Bioethics have issued an "editor's note" in the August issue revealing forty previously undisclosed potential conflicts of interest for six authors of articles in the November 2010 issue of the journal. Those figures do not include six additional authors who failed to respond to the editors' requests for disclosure. Presumably this note was triggered by the recent Senate investigation of the links between the manufacturers of pain drugs and a number of advocacy organizations, including the Center for Practical Bioethics, which used to house the American Journal of Bioethics.

The AJOB editors do not disclose any relationship between pain drug manufacturers and Summer Johnson McGee, the co-editor and former executive editor of the journal.  However, Johnson McGee herself disclosed funding from Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin, in this 2011 article, and she also disclosed funding from the Pain Action Initiative in another 2011 article co-authored with another AJOB editor, Daniel Goldberg.  (The Pain Action Initiative is itself funded by Purdue Pharma and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.) "The monetary source for many of us working on chronic pain is the pharmaceutical industry,” Johnson McGee was quoted as saying in the Kansas City Star.

Two questions seem important here. First: is there an explanation for Johnson McGee's disclosure of relationships with the pharmaceutical industry in two journals but not in AJOB? Second: if a single issue of a bioethics journal can have this many undisclosed conflicts of interest, what are we supposed to conclude about the other issues of the journal?  How did so many authors fail to disclose so many potential conflicts?