As some of you may have heard, Barack Obama recently published a paper in JAMA describing the US health care reforms (link). First of all, I am not trying to start a discussion on the validity of the content of the paper.
Maybe I am overreacting, but as an academic, that specific publication raises a number of concerns. Within scientific research and publishing we have a number of ethical principles that should always be adhered to (e.g., authorship, conflicts of interest, plagiarism, ...). When I look at that publication, I can't help but wonder about a number of things, such as:
Authorship: Obama is listed as sole author on the manuscript. I personally highly doubt that he has done all of the research and writing himself. That constitutes a problem in publication ethics, as is often discussed at length on this site. He does name a couple of people in the acknowledgements, but in my opinion these people should have been authors while Obama should've been in the acknowledgements. Quoting the acknowledgements:
I thank Matthew Fiedler, PhD, and Jeanne Lambrew, PhD, who assisted with planning, writing, and data analysis. I also thank Kristie Canegallo, MA; Katie Hill, BA; Cody Keenan, MPP; Jesse Lee, BA; and Shailagh Murray, MS, who assisted with editing the manuscript. All of the individuals who assisted with the preparation of the manuscript are employed by the Executive Office of the President.
Conflicts of interest: the paper essentially "finds" that the reforms done by the Obama administration are a good thing. Of course Obama will say his reforms are good, yet this was not explicitly disclosed in the conflict of interest statement.
Political papers: the article is published as a special communications, which requires prior inquiry before submission. I feel that this type of paper does not fit into a scientific journal. It's fine to do politics, but I feel it should be done elsewhere.
I am genuinely left wondering whether papers like this one are good or not. While I applaud the idea of scientific papers coming from policymakers, the above mentioned issues (and others) are significant.
My question: are such papers in scientific venues OK or not?