“The Publication Plan” is now also launched on Facebook


“The Publication Plan” has launched its official Facebook page, as a new platform to share news and information with authors, researchers, medical writers and communications professionals, pharmaceutical industry managers, medical journal editors and publishers (amongst others).


Why PhDs are a good fit for a career in medical writing

phd capIn a recent paper published in Medical Writing, Benjamin Gallarda from Ogilvy CommonHealth, discusses how the skills a researcher develops while completing a PhD can successfully be applied to a career in medical writing.

The author points out that writing a thesis, which can run into hundreds of pages and requires the researcher to examine and summarise large amounts of data and scientific literature, forms great training for a would-be medical writer. Similarly, the problem-solving and creative thinking required to overcome the hurdles that are almost always encountered during a PhD are good practice for when, as a medical writer, you must do what you can to meet a client’s demands. The ability to communicate ideas to audiences ranging from non-experts to specialists in the field is also necessary for both a PhD candidate and a medical writer.

The author goes on to discuss the new skills that can be gained from a move from research into the world of medical communications. These include those required to develop promotional materials and to interpret information from sources outside of the natural sciences.

In conclusion, the author asserts that if post-docs enjoy the non-laboratory aspects of research, are keen to talk about their work and are interested in subjects outside their primary field, medical writing could offer a good fit and an interesting and enjoyable career.


Summary by Alice Wareham, PhD from Aspire Scientific

[VIDEO] Peer review: a global view

Watch a snapshot of the findings from one of the largest research studies into peer review in recent years, examining authors, reviewers’ and journal editors’ opinions on the system at the heart of scholarly communication. Read the research here.

[VIDEO] History of the European Association of Science Editors (EASE)

Rachael Lammey, Member and Community Outreach at Crossref and European Association of Science Editors (EASE) Council Member, gives a brief history of the association which celebrated it’s 30 year anniversary in 2012.

This recording was made on 6 July 2016 in Oxford, at a MedComms Networking event.

[VIDEO] Editing: things they don’t tell you about what journal editors want

Pippa Smart, a publishing consultant working with editorial groups, journals and publishers on editorial and publishing strategy and intellectual property rights, provides some insights into the “black box” of editorial offices and why occasionally (apparently) strange decisions are made.

This recording was made on 6 July 2016 in Oxford, at a MedComms Networking event.

Can more be done to improve the peer review process?

peer reviewDue to the human element, peer review, a critical component of the publication process, can be biased and is often inefficient. Drummond Rennie, a former president of the World Association of Medical Editors, has championed research into peer review for many years and in a recent article has highlighted the improvements that have been made and where more work is needed.

Rennie was moved to act after coming across cases of plagiarism by reviewers and the revelation that fabricated data could get through peer review and be published. He was involved in the setup of the Peer Review Congress, which is held every 4 years. The ensuing research into peer review has contributed to milestones such as the CONSORT guidelines to improve the reporting of clinical trial data and the EQUATOR Network now has more than 300 reporting guidelines to aid the writing of scientific research.

The question of which is the best method of peer review–open, blinded, pre vs. post publication, portable–is open for debate. Rennie highlights the need for further research to examine the claims and counterclaims of the advantages and disadvantages of each method so that this important question can be investigated. Progress is being made and the launch last year of a journal specifically for research into this area, Research Integrity and Peer Review, can only help. Rennie stresses the need for all those involved in the publication process, authors, editors and reviewers, to use the existing guidelines to uphold standards and to continually monitor and develop the practice as needed.


Summary by Jo Chapman, PhD from Aspire Scientific.

Is the tide turning against journal impact factors?

Journal impact factors (JIFs) are a topic often found at the centre of debate within the scientific community. Designed as a measure of the quality of a journal as a whole, many believe that researchers, funders and employers now inappropriately use the measure to assess the quality of individual papers or authors. This type of misuse has led to many big players in the science publishing world calling for its removal or replacement, as reported in a Nature news article recently.

JIFs are calculated using the average number of citations that articles published by a journal in the previous two years have received in the current year. Although a sound concept, evidence in a recent paper authored by senior employees at a number of science publishers indicate that the JIF is heavily influenced by a small number of papers that are highly cited.

The paper, posted to preprint server bioRxiv, looked at the distribution of citations for articles published in 11 journals between 2013–14 and compared this with each journal’s 2015 impact factor. They found that 65–76% of papers received fewer citations than the impact factor of the journal. The authors propose that journals adopt citation distributions as a more appropriate representation of a journal’s status and they provide instructions on how to do this. Others argue that the JIF still has value and that removing it completely would be a mistake. The debate continues….



Summary by Alice Wareham, PhD from Aspire Scientific

[VIDEO] Highlights from the 2016 conference of the European Association of Science Editors (EASE)

In this video, Rachael Lammey, Member and Community Outreach at Crossref and Council Member of the European Association of Science Editors (EASE), gives a summary of the 13th EASE Conference, held in Strasbourg on 10-12 June 2016. The theme of the conference was ‘Scientific Integrity: editors on the front line’.

This recording was made on 6 July 2016 in Oxford, at a MedComms Networking event.