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?
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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.
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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:
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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.
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Is that open access publishing fee worth it?

Shelves in a library showing journals where researchers publish a scientific paper.

Open access publishing offers readers free access to articles published online, in contrast to a model where articles are available through an individual or institutional subscription to the journal. Most often, authors (or their institutions) pay an open access publishing fee when the manuscript is accepted. The fees can range from $75 to over $3,000 per article, depending on the journal.
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Do you use these 50 terms in psychology writing?

illustration of brain regions studied in mental illness ACC, amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex

Psychology and psychiatry often study phenomena that are “open concepts,” which necessitates precision in the language used to describe the phenomena. This is the argument posed by the authors of a recent paper that describes 50 terms that are commonly used in psychological and psychiatric scientific literature and that the authors believe are incorrectly used.

The 50 terms are broken down into 5 broad categories. Some of these terms apply to scientific literature in general and are not specific to psychology and psychiatry.
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GPP3: New guidelines for publishing company-sponsored medical research

Pellet of Lymphocyte Cells Created in the Centrifuge

Companies that sponsor medical research should pay attention to an updated guideline that was recently released. The document, Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company-Sponsored Medical Research“, more commonly known as GPP3, is the third iteration of the guideline, which goes back to 2003.

The guideline covers all types of documents published in peer-reviewed journals (original research articles, short reports, reviews, letters to the editor) and presentations at scientific congresses and meetings (oral presentations, posters, abstracts).
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