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Navigating the challenges of conference materials: insights from GPCAP

Jackie Marchington_Article

Conference abstracts and presentations present unique challenges for medical publication professionals, yet, until recently, no specific reporting guidelines or recommendations were available. The Publication Plan has been talking to Jackie Marchington, Director of Global Operations, Caudex, McCann Health Medical Communications, and member of the Good Practice for Conference Abstracts and Presentations (GPCAP) working group, to hear about her experiences developing and disseminating the GPCAP recommendations.

What were the main reasons for developing the GPCAP recommendations?

“There was a lot of frustration with the lack of clarity specifically for non-manuscript work in the Good Publication Practice 3 (GPP3) guidelines

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“There was a lot of frustration with the lack of clarity specifically for non-manuscript work in the Good Publication Practice 3 (GPP3) guidelines. Cate Foster (Editor/Quality Team member, Oxford PharmaGenesis) and Liz Wager (freelance publications consultant and trainer, Visiting Professor at the University of Split School of Medicine and co-author of the GPP3 guidelines) had discussed this a few times before GPP3 came out, but there happened to be enough of us present at Liz’s presentation on the GPP3 update that we hit critical mass.”

What do you think are the key take home messages of GPCAP, for both congress organisers and for those developing and submitting abstracts?

“Conference abstracts and presentations are not the same as manuscripts, but we should strive for the same level of transparency and ethical standards while recognising the differences. Our request to congress organisers would be please don’t make us sacrifice word count for administrative details!”

“Our request to congress organisers would be please don’t make us sacrifice word count for administrative details!” 

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What impact do you think GPCAP will have and which recommendations do you feel could lead to the most significant improvements in current practices?

“GPCAP is already having an impact, as we used it twice with clients the day it was published online, and I know a few pharma companies have delivered their own awareness campaigns internally, based on the presentations we’ve made. I think consistency of approach is probably the most important aspect, rather than any single recommendation.”

Were any of the GPCAP recommendations controversial, either during their development or after publication? For example, was it particularly difficult to reach a consensus on any aspects due to differences in opinions?

“Believe it or not, agreeing what terminology to use around “industry sponsored” research drew the most amount of discussion. It was important to get it right, and one of the main reasons we wanted to invite some industry representation on to the author team. The topic of congress encores was fun – everyone was broadly in agreement, but hammering out the fine detail of what is enough to make an encore an update was one we went back and forth on quite a lot.”

Would you like to see a greater involvement from any stakeholders in future GPCAP discussions?

“We would love to hear from conference organisers and from the companies that create the abstract submission sites”

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“Absolutely, we would love to hear from conference organisers and from the companies that create the abstract submission sites. Many of our recommendations call for more transparency, but without compromising what is already a tight word count. We can make recommendations all we want, but much of what we would like to happen needs to be agreed to and enabled by those stakeholders.”

Readers can post comments or questions to Twitter using #GPCAP or via the GPCAP website. Has the feedback to date indicated any areas that publication professionals were particularly uncertain about?

“Not really. I think people are grateful for the guidance on encores, and on how to handle substitute presenters – but we haven’t really been surprised by any questions yet. There is definitely one thing that I think we could have made clearer, and that’s around post-publication persistence of posters/slides online. Maybe something for GPCAP2, but also something we need those who host post-conference materials to buy into. Of course, plain language summaries of conference materials are something we should consider in a future version too.”

Jackie Marchington is Director of Global Operations at Caudex, McCann Health Medical Communications. You can contact Jackie via Jackie.Marchington@caudex.com. For further information on GPCAP, watch this presentation by Jackie.

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With thanks to our sponsors, Aspire Scientific Ltd and NetworkPharma Ltd


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