Less Text, More Pictures – Visual Abstracts

In the fast-paced world in which we live, it seems that nobody has time to read a full research article any more. With so much reading done on mobile screens now, many researchers and journals are moving to visual abstracts to grab readers’ attention.

What’s a visual abstract? Continue reading Less Text, More Pictures – Visual Abstracts

Updated Publishing Guidelines – What’s New

ICMJE guidelines

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recently updated their guidelines for publishing in the scientific literature. The ICMJE guidelines, or as they’re more formally known “Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publishing of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals,” were updated to include new information related to reputable journals and data sharing, among others.

Continue reading Updated Publishing Guidelines – What’s New

Guidelines for Conference Materials

A group of colleagues working in the medical publications field just posted a preprint (not peer-reviewed) manuscript on Good Practice for Conference Abstracts and Presentations (GP-CAP). The paper works off of the GPP3 guidelines and ICMJE recommendations for developing and publishing manuscripts and tries to tackle some situations that are unique to conference materials and presentations.

Continue reading Guidelines for Conference Materials

Beware the Dark Side (of scientific publishing)

There are many reputable publishers and journals for peer-reviewed manuscripts, many of which offer open access publishing options (what is open access?). There are also many questionable journals out there (so-called “predatory journals”), which often promote their open access publication. How do you tell the difference?
Continue reading Beware the Dark Side (of scientific publishing)

New Position Statement on the Role of Medical Writers

The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) today released a Joint Position Statement on the Role of Professional Medical Writers (pdf), which is the first unified position on the role of professional medical writers from three leading professional organizations.

The position statement outlines the responsibilities of professional medical writers as well as the responsibilities of the authors who collaborate with medical writers. In addition, there is a template for how to disclose medical writing support in publications.

Make sure your medical writer is practicing in accordance with the new position statement. 

Why publication guidelines were made

Sugar versus butter

Ah, times have changed. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine reveals the practices that led to the 1967 publication of a 2-part literature review on “Dietary Fats, Carbohydrates and Atherosclerotic Disease.”

In short, the review articles were written with heavy involvement from the Sugar Research Foundation, which has since become the Sugar Association with a mission to “promote the consumption of sugar through sound scientific principles while maintaining an understanding of the benefits that sugar contributes to the quality of wholesome foods and beverages.”

From a the perspective of a medical writer acquainted with publication guidelines, the current article lays out a troubling path to publication for the 2-part review. Continue reading Why publication guidelines were made

Quick (and easy) ideas to improve your writing

Helpful tips

Recently, an investigator came to me frustrated with the quality of scientific writing that was being produced by his laboratory members. At least a few times a year, I hear the same comment: “My team members are wonderful scientists but terrible writers.”

Most investigators think that they have to put up with the terrible writing, but I don’t think so. After a brief conversation, the investigator and I identified a few easy ways that he could help his team (and himself) improve the scientific writing produced by their laboratory.
Continue reading Quick (and easy) ideas to improve your writing

New scientific publication resources

In the last few months, a variety of new and updated resources on scientific publication were released. Some of the resources are geared more toward authors and researchers, while others will be most useful for medical writers and publication planners. Here they are, in no particular order:
Continue reading New scientific publication resources

Medical writers bring value to authors

Medical writers assist authors with writing, editing, and searching the literature when preparing scientific manuscripts. For authors who are under a time crunch to publish their data, medical writing support can be a benefit. Recent research also points to added value that medical writers bring to authors above and beyond these initial benefits.

A recent study published in BMJ Open examined the relationship between medical writing support and the quality of reporting in randomized controlled trials published in BioMed Central journals between 2000 and 2014. Continue reading Medical writers bring value to authors

How academia can increase the value of research articles

With all the money invested in obtaining research funding, universities should invest more in the end product of that research, namely the publications. That is the argument made by the authors of a recent paper on improving the medical research literature.

The authors identified 3 targets that could help universities improve the publications from their researchers: introducing publications officers into the academic environment, training researchers how to be authors, and training researchers how to be peer reviewers.
Continue reading How academia can increase the value of research articles