Having accepted an invitation to be a visiting professor at a university-affiliated medical school, I recently received 9 pages of forms to review, acknowledge, and provide requested information, and sign where required. Of note, these were sent 6 months before my lectureship.
I found several aspects on these forms disturbing, thus triggering this editorial. The CME disclosure attestation form requires compliance with 10 specific categories, including overall disclosure, assurance of providing “best available evidence,” scientific integrity, copyright agreement, etc. However, 1 in particular, that of “content review,” struck a chord. The requirement requested stated “ I understand that the __________ School of Medicine may need to review my presentation and/or content prior to the activity, and I will provide educational content and resources in advance as requested.” Most of us in academia are familiar with many disclosure forms, be they from our own institution or from local or national societies, and tend to sign them perfunctorily. Yet in this case I wondered and even inquired as to who would be the individuals chosen to do the review and what their qualifications were.
In actuality, the presentation I intended to deliver at the invited eponymous lecture is the culmination of upward of 3 months of research and preparation and, in fact, has been already subjected to a peer-review process before being published. From my perspective the presentation will reflect integrity, scholarship, and years of experience.
When one submits a scientific study to a peer-review journal such as Techniques in Hand and Upper Extremity, the understanding is that the Editor, Editorial Board, and consultant reviewers have been chosen on the basis of their proven experience and scholarship. Alternatively, there is increasing interest toward “open access” publication, providing information that is subject to evaluation only by the reader.
I would be most interested in inquiring of this University if the same forms and requirements exist for speakers from other professions—that is, celebrity authors, politicians, or scholars in other fields. If not, then perhaps we should look with greater interest into what one could construe as the potential for censorship.
Jesse Jupiter, MD