The high costs of publishing traditional journals open the door for sponsored content
In April 2009, an online life sciences magazine, The-Scientist.com carried a curious story about a journal called The Australasian Journal of Bone and Medicine that was published in the early part of the century. The journal published by the reputed publisher Elsevier reprinted articles from other Elsevier journals and carried some news and reviews. Nothing unusual, except the journal was fully paid for by Merck and was started with the express intent of supporting drugs made by the pharmaceutical giant. Worse still, Elsevier "conveniently" forgot to mention this "relationship" in the journal which was possibly read by hundreds of doctors who took the plugged pieces as genuine medical research.
"Sponsored content" is not new to publications advertorials are common in newspapers and magazines, with the recent ones being so cleverly done that one can't make out the difference between opinion and advertisement unless one looks hard. But scientific publishing was supposed to be above all this. This episode, involving two of the biggest and most reputed names in their respective industries, dispels all doubts about science being above commerce.
Years ago, it was fairly common, especially in medicine, for sponsored research to be published in reputed journals. In the cut-throat world of academia, where publish or perish is the mantra, researchers would welcome money from any source to carry out their work and advance their careers. The disclosure norms for authors were not stringent and scientists took money for research from industry (the pharmaceutical industry being the major one), and published their findings without anyone being any wiser. Not surprisingly, the research was usually never unfavourable to the paymasters.
|In the cut-throat world of publish or perish, many researchers would welcome money from any source|
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