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Professional writing assistance: effects on biomedical publishing

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The involvement of professional writers in the reporting of scientific research has generated considerable discussion. I reviewed the literature relating to this debate. Some commentators argue that professional writing assistance can inappropriately influence the reporting of research, undermine accountability for the published work, and deceive readers when the professional writer's contribution is not acknowledged. On the other hand, it has been argued that professional writers improve the quality and readability of papers, speed up the publication process, and undertake important educational activities. These arguments are based on anecdote and opinion rather than on evidence from well-conducted research. Although some recommendations have been proposed, there is no widely accepted published guidance about how writing assistance should be used. The biomedical community should consider implementing initiatives that will facilitate research about professional writing assistance—an outcome that would make for a better-informed debate.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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