#GhoMan – Chasing the Ghosts

A project to develop a systematic method for investigating and mapping ghost management at work in scientific research, medical practice and public health.

It combines academic approach and investigative journalism.

Our method and tools are open access.

Why this project?

 At the PODC 2018 conference Re-Check used the format of maps to present the results of three long form investigations (3rd- and 4th-generation oral contraceptives, Lobbying in the Swiss Parliament for organized breast cancer screening, and Launch of HPV vaccines).

These visualizations allowed us to test the hypothesis developed by Marc-André Gagnon, who built on Sergio Sismondo’s theoretical framework regarding the existence of ghost management (GhoMan) at work in medical research and practice.

Ghost management is defined as the systematic behind-the-scenes efforts and strategies deployed by large corporations to shape knowledge, ideas and narratives about specific products, that affects all of the field of medicine and public health by achieving seven types of “capture”: scientific capture, regulatory capture, market capture, professional capture, media capture, technological capture and civil society capture.

The maps drawn by Re-Check confirmed the relevance of this hypothesis.

We therefore decided to work together with Marc-André Gagnon, Sergio Sismondo and Marc Lee Hunter in order to develop a consistent, systematic and validated method to highlight, analyze and map GhoMan in the field of public health, research and medical practice.

We aim to make this method easily applicable and available to academic researchers, investigative journalists and other players (i.e., policymakers, consumers advocates, non-governmental organizations) wishing to explore the phenomenon and visualize it at work.

Who is on board?

Catherine Riva
Catherine RivaRe-Check Investigating and Mapping Health Affairs (CH)
Catherine Riva is a freelance investigative journalist and the co-founder of Re-Check that develops mehods and tools to draw maps allowing to visualize influences, hidden agendas and conflicts of interest in the field of health and medicine.
Serena Tinari
Serena TinariRe-Check Investigating and Mapping Health Affairs (CH)
Serena Tinari is a freelance investigative journalist and the co-founder of Re-Checkis that develops mehods and tools to draw maps allowing to visualize influences, hidden agendas and conflicts of interest in the field of health and medicine.
Marc-André Gagnon
Marc-André GagnonSchool of Public Policy & Administration, Carleton University, Ottawa (CAN)
Marc-André Gagnon is associate professor in public policy and cross-appointed with both Health Sciences and the Institute of Political Economy. He holds a PhD in political science, a Masters of Advanced Studies in Economics, he did his post-doc in law and ethics while teaching in sociology and economics.
Sergio Sismondo
Sergio SismondoDepartment of Philosophy, Queen’s University, Kingston (CAN)
Sergio Sismondo is professor of philosophy and sociology. His research is at intersections of philosophy and sociology of science. Recently he has been studying the nature and distribution of pharmaceutical research, seeing this as a project in the political economy of knowledge. He is the author, among others, of Ghost-Managed Medicine: Big Pharma’s Invisible Hands (Mattering, 2018). Sergio Sismondo is currently editor of the journal Social Studies of Science.
Mark Lee Hunter
Mark Lee HunterINSEAD Social Innovation Centre, Fontainebleau (FRA)
Mark Lee Hunter is an investigative journalist, adjunct professor and senior research fellow. He served as principal author and editor of Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists, a UNESCO publication that is the most widely used manual in the history of investigative journalism. His scholarly research on media development is published in leading academic journals.

Other participants: Louise Vandelac, Université du Québec à Montréal | Paul Thacker, investigative journalist | Cecilia Rikap, City University of London | Kean Birch, York University, Toronto

Our approach

Project steps and timeline