What’s in a name? When a medical journal isn’t

The medical blogosphere went a bit viral of late over two stories published in The Scientist (here and here) that a drug company paid a science publisher to create publications with titles that sound a lot like peer-reviewed journals.

Some (including this medical librarian) noted the uproar is actually a bit of a hair-split within the complicated (and perhaps compromised) slippery slope in commercial trade publishing that starts at peer-review journals and terminates at single-sponsor, targeted “educational” custom publishing. 

Laika’s medlib log notes that anyone seeing the publication, despite its medical advisory board and fancy sounding name, would know it for what it was — a “throwaway” — the insider medical term for the glossy “educational” materials distributed for free by drug companies. 

This science blogger’s rant on the issue neatly captures the defining features of the throwaway, as well as the frustration experienced by knowledge experts when medicine meets marketing.