Who writes dermatology randomized controlled trials? The need to specify the role of medical writers.

Medical writers are non-authors who may make major contributions to the preparation of a manuscript. We assessed the prevalence, affiliation, and role of medical writers in dermatology randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in 2019 in the top 7 medical and top 10 dermatology journals. Medical writers were identified in 39/83 trials (47%), all of which were exclusively industry-funded trials (39/47, prevalence 83%). Most studies stated their role as "medical writing support" and/or "editorial assistance" (35/39, 90%) but when more information was provided, four studies specified first draft preparation (50% of RCTs in general medical and 1.3% of RCTs in dermatology journals). Medical writers are common in dermatology trials but their role is often vaguely stated. In April 2020 the BJD and Clinical and Experimental Dermatology adopted CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy), which describes contributions of authors and may help clarify who writes trial manuscripts.


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Authors: L Steele, H L Lee, E Earp, A Hong, J Thomson