Publication planning is crucial for the development of a comprehensive strategic and tactical scientific communications plan. In a recent article for the MAP newsletter from the International Society of Medical Publications Professionals (ISMPP), Danielle Sheard and Sara Steeves from Costello Medical (Cambridge, UK) provide their insights on the core elements of an effective gap analysis. As they explain, a gap analysis is an evidence-based publication planning tool that can provide an overview of the disease area, highlight competitor strategies and identify any areas of unmet medical need. Importantly, the information from a gap analysis can then be utilised by publication planning teams to develop robust communication points to effectively address critical evidence gaps.
In their article, Sheard and Steeves provide a useful overview of the processes involved. A gap analysis must be well-planned, so the first step is to prospectively define the topics of interest. Sheard and Steeves suggest that insights from an initial analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) will help to inform the selection of topics. A literature review is then completed to identify existing publications of relevance. Following this, the identified publications are mapped against the pre-specified topics to identify gaps. Finally, any identified gaps feed back into the initial SWOT analysis; for example, areas of priority for data generation or publication identified by the gap analysis could be a potential opportunity for the SWOT analysis.
To conclude, Sheard and Steeves note that a gap analysis is just one aspect of publication plan development. Other factors to consider include the need for alternative publication types (such as review articles) and data availability. For instance, fast publication of data may be more important than the priorities suggested by the gap analysis.
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