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.
The most widely referenced and followed guideline for authorship of scientific publications is that issued by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). In it, the ICMJE recommends that authorship be determined by:
Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
Final approval of the version to be published; AND
Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
The ICMJE states that
All those designated as authors should meet all four criteria for authorship, and all who meet the four criteria should be identified as authors. Those who do not meet all four criteria should be acknowledged.
A recent study looked at challenging authorship scenarios and asked clinical investigators, medical journal editors, publication professionals, and medical writers to decide who should be granted authorship status in these situations and how confident they were in their decision.
Professional medical communicators (writers, editors, or developers) are skilled at clearly communicating science. Since they are intimately familiar with style guides, reporting requirements, and proper English usage, professional writers can efficiently process your scientific data into a coherent document.
To someone outside the field of medical communications, the value of a medical writer is not always obvious. You might ask yourself “Why should I work with a medical writer when I can write up my data?”
A good medical writer will add these qualities to your project:
Efficiency – The writer specializes in creating documents that are logically organized, readable, and scientifically thorough. A professional medical writer can complete the job in a shorter amount of time than someone who does not write for a living.
Eye for detail – The writer will take care of endless details that most authors are unaware of but publishers and regulatory bodies take seriously.
Adherence to guidelines and requirements – The writer will seamlessly implement any formatting or content requirements in your document, which will go a long way to facilitate the publication or approval process.
Want data to back up these claims?
A survey of journal editors showed that “poorly written, excessive jargon” topped the list of problems seen in manuscripts, with most editors reporting that it happens “frequently.” This was followed closely by “inadequate or inappropriate presentation” as the second most common problem.
From Byrne DW. Publishing Your Medical Research Papers. 1998.
“When professional medical writers help authors prepare manuscripts, these manuscripts are less likely to be retracted for misconduct, are more compliant with best-practice reporting guidelines, and are accepted more quickly for publication.
From Wolley KL, et al. “Poor compliance with reporting research results.” Curr Med Res Opin, 2012.