Elsevier's New Custom Publication Guidlines Set New Standards for Publishing Pharma-Sponsored Content

Philadelphia, PA, 23 February 2010 – Elsevier, the world’s leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical (STM) information products and services announced today that it is publicly sharing its internal custom publication guidelines so that the scientific and medical communities can have insight into a new and practical set of publishing standards for producing custom and sponsored publications. The new guidelines were first developed in June 2009 and updated in December 2009 following a comprehensive internal review of custom publications practices within Elsevier.

“We recognized the need to align our procedures for custom publications across the business so they are consistent with our high standards of transparency, disclosure and ethical behavior and consistent with Elsevier’s reputation and responsibility for delivering world-class content,” said Michael Hansen, CEO, Elsevier Health Sciences. “We think the time has come for a higher level of bar-setting for disclosure of origin and funding and encourage other publishers to take similar steps if they haven’t already.”

The review was initiated when it was revealed that two Elsevier publications from 2003, presented as an unbiased journal, were in fact sponsored publications lacking adequate disclosures. The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine published reprinted original, peer-reviewed research articles, plus other summarized articles, conference reviews and news clips and was single-sponsored by a global pharmaceutical company. Contrary to the high standards that Elsevier sets for itself, the employees responsible did not make the sponsorship sufficiently clear to its potential readers.

The guidelines cover the necessity for full disclosure of funding and the origin of content and provide guidance on obtaining permission for the use of content. The guidelines also point employees to best practices for medical publications from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the Institute of Medicine.

Publishing units will consider in their approval processes whether a custom publication is consistent with Elsevier’s historical standard for world-class content and whether appropriate disclosures are made. They also need to follow the established record retention policy to ensure the company maintains an archive of all custom products produced. Affected employees have confirmed receipt of the guidelines and attended presentations on implementation. Elsevier management will continue to monitor and assess adherence to the guidelines and standards by all its business units globally.

“These guidelines will help ensure our readers are aware of the context in which content is presented to them,” said Hansen. “Further, this experience has demonstrated how much we value the input of our various communities of authors, editors and others in helping us stay true to our mission. Feedback on these guidelines and other parts of our business will be continually welcomed.”

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com

Media Contact:
Tom Reller
Elsevier
+1 215 239 3508
t.reller@elsevier.com