Simon Stern and Trudo Lemmens, law professors at the University of Toronto, propose using the RICO Act to make university ghost and guest writers “think twice before allowing their names to be used.” They talk about the fraud on prescribers (of the drugs the articles promote), article readers, and patients.

What they don’t include is the fraud against their academic institutions. Every year, as they point out, professors submit annual reports to their deans, describing their research productivity. Pharma-fraudsters get monetary bonuses that should go to professors who write their own articles. This unfairness harms morale and collegiality; it also cheapens the institution by associating it with bogus, corporate-generated, research.

Universities, Lemmens and Stern write, “are reluctant to punish prestigious doctors who otherwise reflect credit on the institution and often help impress donors.”


One thing that’s constantly amazed UD as she has written this blog is the way corporations pretty much do everything for faculty – not just write their articles. Chandru Rajam, recently a (not terribly well-received; too busy to teach… but who cares… just a visiting professor… only fucks up GW students for two semesters) colleague of UD‘s in the business school, has an outsourced grading business that will relieve UD of all grading responsibilities. She never needs to see a student paper! Add ghost-writing companies, corporate-provided PowerPoints (all you have to do is read them out loud! exam questions included!), etc. etc., and it’s clear that postmodern university professors who are willing to pay don’t have to do anything.

On top of this, UD lives in Washington – the richest metropolitan region in the country. While spending her money to make other people do everything for her, she has an immense variety of spas from which to choose.

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6 Responses to ““Guest authors are sometimes paid for their signature, and are always rewarded in the coin of prestige. More publications in good journals can translate into conference invitations, pay raises, and grants—and that is a primary reason why academic doctors agree to let their names be used.””

  1. Jeff Boulier Says:

    This seems up your alley:

    “One of the Netherlands’ leading social psychologists made up or manipulated data in dozens of papers over nearly a decade, an investigating committee has concluded […] Stapel issued a statement today in which he apologizes to his colleagues and says he “failed as a scientist” and is ashamed of his actions.”

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Thanks, Jeff. Yes – I’ve been following that story.

  3. Bill R Says:

    I understand there are many writing services to which the students can outsource the coursework so they don’t have to do anything either.

    I’m going to set up a company that provides course preparation and grading services to the faculty and also coursework services to the students so we can keep the whole transaction at one desk.

    Eventually, we’ll be able to automate the entire experience so that neither faculty nor students will need to participate directly at all.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Bill R – Exactly. You’ve seen the future.

  5. MattF Says:

    … and when the online ‘student’ is awarded the desired online ‘degree’ from an online ‘educational institution’, an alert is sent to the student’s smartphone, signaled by a custom Pomp and Circumstance ring-tone…

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    MattF: LOL.

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