Welcome to Medical Communication News
Medical Communication News provides an executive summary of noteworthy articles pertaining to the medical communication industry. Distributed twice a month, this e-newsletter provides AMWA members with recent news, research, and trends in the field of medical communication. Read past issues in the online archive.
World's Main List of Science 'Predators' Vanishes With No Warning
Ottawa Citizen (Canada) (01/17/17)
A mystery is unfolding in the research publishing community following the sudden and unexplained shutdown of Beall's List, a controversial compilation of suspected predatory online journals. It was introduced in 2012 by University of Colorado librarian and assistant professor Jeffrey Beall, who used it to out thousands of allegedly fake, unscrupulous, or unethical publications. Recently updated with more than 1,500 sketchy sources, Beall's blog abruptly went dark on January 15, with just the title Scholarly Open Access remaining. Beall himself is off the grid, furthering concerns. His work has been thrashed by some of the publishers named on his list—some of which threatened to sue—as well as by some who believe he is overzealous in his scrutiny of open-access journals. Although this format is preferred by predators, critics note that there also are credible, quality open-access publications. Supporters, meanwhile, are devastated by the recent turn of events. "To see Beall's work disappear would be an absolute disaster," declared University of Saskatchewan medical researcher Roger Pierson. "From an academic perspective, this represents the absence of an extremely important resource. ... Beall's work is crucial to the analysis of scientific publication and the information contained within. We need to do everything that we can to ensure that the work continues."
How Freelance Writers Can Attract Clients
YourStory.com (01/16/17) Rangwala, M
Providing consistent, quality work by deadline is critical for freelance writers who seek the best, and best-paying, assignments. With so much competition, however, even the most talented freelances must put some effort into attracting plum clients. Self-promotion is key, and one way to achieve this is by listing their profession on all social media profiles. They also should create profiles on the various online communities where prospective clients solicit content providers, making sure to subscribe only to reputable sites. Another way to pique the interest of potential clients is by launching a blog—which demonstrates range of interest and volume of work that can be produced in a given amount of time—and then linking it to sales pitches. Before approaching a prospective client, though, freelances should perform due diligence so their pitch reaches the individuals at a company most likely to utilize their services. Otherwise, the email could be lost or ignored. In addition to inquiring at possible new employers, freelances should periodically reach out to previous clients. Finally, forging relationships with freelance graphic designers, web developers, and project managers can lead to recommendations for assignments when their collaborators' employers need content. All of these steps together will help writers form a solid network for work opportunities.
Openness by Default
Inside Higher Ed (01/16/17) Straumsheim, C
Effective January 1, all grant recipients of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation must make their published, peer-reviewed research available to the public immediately. Anyone receiving funding from the organization must make their research, as well as all underlying data sets, available in an open-access journal or in a public repository. The policy was first announced in 2015 but included a two-year transition phase during which grantees could embargo their work for up to a year. Although the policy has only been recently implemented in full, Richard Wilder—associate general counsel in the Gates Foundation's global health program—says it has already led to positive discussions with grantees and publishers about access to scientific research and increased opportunities for open-access publishing with some publishers. The foundation has funded more than 3,000 projects since the policy first took effect. Both private and government grant-making organizations have been moving forward toward open access in recent years. Under the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) public-access policy, which it began enforcing in 2008, grant recipients are required to submit their research to PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. The policy allows the agency to better monitor the impact of the research it supports. The data show that 1.4 million users go to PubMed Central every day, accessing an average of 2.8 million papers each weekday. "If you're going to invest in research, you need to make sure that people can read that research," asserts Neil Thakur, special assistant to the deputy director for extramural research at NIH.
The Journal Impact Factor: Moving Toward an Alternative and Combined Scientometric Approach
Journal of Korean Medical Science (02/17) Vol. 32, No. 2, P. 173 Gasparyan, A; Nurmashev, B; Yessirkepov, M; et al.
Journal Impact Factor (JIF), which quantifies a publication's "impact" by tracking the number of times it is cited elsewhere, has become a benchmark for ranking scholarly journals around the globe. It has been around since 1955; but an analysis of searches on Scopus, the most comprehensive multidisciplinary database, shows that articles discussing the tool have been multiplying since the turn of the century. Specifically, there has been increasing interest in how JIF is used—and misused—especially in the United States and in the field of medical sciences. In particular, critics fret that impact factor is being unfairly equated with quality; driving a preference for English-language articles that report on randomized clinical trials, systematic reviews, and practice guidelines; undermining the dissemination of clinical case reports and other submissions that have great educational value but attract fewer citations; and being given undue weight in career considerations like grant funding and academic advancement. Additionally, some journals are manipulating the number of articles to increase their score—and, thus, their perceived worth. In pushback against these trends, emerging strategies seek to mesh JIF with citation plots and alternative metrics to reflect uses of individual submissions in terms of downloads and distribution of related information through social media and networking platforms. Others would tweak the original formula of the JIF calculation to showcase the impact and importance of individual articles. Elsevier has already embraced the concept of combining quantitative and qualitative approaches to evaluate impact; and, along with Nature Publishing Group, is offering more comprehensive information about the use of individual articles by combining citation metrics and downloads with altmetric scores, a newer multidimensional metric. As other alternative approaches are developed, journals in the meantime can regularly upgrade instructions for publication as a way to boost ethical soundness.
Can New Models of Publishing Better Salvage the Benefits of Peer Review?
The Wire (01/25/17) Seshasayee, A
Peer review, the time-honored method for validating research ahead of publication, may be in need of a makeover. The process has many benefits but is not without its flaws, primarily a lack of transparency. The cloaked nature of the process opens it up to bias, some say, begging the question of whether journals and journal editors should be so heavily involved in choosing reviewers and basing acceptance decisions on the opinions of a select few. In recent years, a handful of publications have decided that they should not and have changed their peer-review models to reflect that belief. One trailblazer is Biology Direct, which a decade ago transferred the onus of getting a submission peer-reviewed and accepted for publication from the journal to the authors of the paper. Others have simply made the process more transparent, encouraging—and in a few cases, requiring—reviewers to sign their critiques, and publishing them. Still others question whether journal-mediated peer review is necessary at all. Most good scientists allow colleagues to informally review their work, identifying and addressing shortcomings this way. Only when peer-reviewed papers are identifiably better than those that have not undergone the process—and right now they are not—will there be proof that journal-mediated peer review improves science.
The Race for Publishing Original Biomedical Research Articles in Pakistan
Journal of Pakistan Medical Association (01/17) Vol. 67, No. 1 Jawad, F
More high-quality original biomedical research articles need to be published in Pakistan, writes Fatema Jawad, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, in an editorial. The quantity of research in the country has increased, but the trend can be attributed to rules set by regulatory bodies that require research and publication for advancement. There is still room for improvement in the quality, Jawad asserts. Among the issues is that while randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered the most effective among the categories of research, there is no trial registration authority in Pakistan, according to Akhter Sherin in the Khyber Medical University Journal. RCTs require greater finances and time, and Pakistan has little of both for medical research. "In the absence of clearly defined criteria of the categories of research, authors demand that their research be treated as original because it is the requirement for faculty promotion. Such rules are imposed by the Institutional Promotion Committees, [Pakistan Medical and Dental Council] and [Higher Education Commission]," Jawad writes. The Medical and Dental Council, for example, does not specify the research categories, asking only that a candidate for promotion present a certain number of original articles published in a PMDC-recognized journal. To increase the quality and content of research in the country, Jawad suggests that authorities "make sensible and plausible changes in our rules and definitions," clarifying the criteria for research and redefining the requirements for promotions or for applying for exams.
Knowledge References: Analysis of Brazilian Health Journal Instructions to Authors
Ciencia & Saude Coletiva (01/01/17) Vol. 22, No. 1, P. 7 Taquette, SR; Villela, WV
Use of the qualitative method in health research is limited, even though it holds promise for resolving issues not answered by epidemiological and experimental approaches. Qualitative research is stymied in part by the small amount of space that publications offer for this kind of study. To better understand obstacles in publishing that could be barriers to conducting qualitative research, investigators conducted an analysis of the instructions given to authors for health sciences publications indexed in the Scientific Electronic Library Online in Brazil. According to the data, 52 of the 88 current titles studied included conditions that are incompatible with qualitative studies. The majority were medical publications. Nineteen publications did not include information on the type of study; but the requirements they included were not typical for quantitative research, such as data collection techniques or the need for statistical tests. Meanwhile, the 17 publications that indicated acceptance of qualitative research allowed for longer texts, texts without statistical tests, and study designs featuring interviews. Most of these publications were in the collective health and nursing fields. Barriers to the expansion of qualitative research include the lack of clear instructions about submitting such studies and also the requirement of study reproducibility, the authors write. They suggest that a revision of the scientific and accuracy criteria be considered.
AMWA Members to Vote on New Constitution
The AMWA Constitution was recently updated in accordance with current laws and best practices, and the update has been approved by AMWA’s Board of Directors. Now it must be approved by AMWA’s voting members. Paper ballots will be mailed on February 3, 2017 to all AMWA voting members in good standing (because AMWA’s current Constitution does not permit electronic voting) and completed ballots must be received by March 6, 2017. AMWA members are encouraged to watch the mail for their paper ballots, and to complete and return their ballots by (and preferably before) March 6, 2017. Click here to learn more about AMWA’s Constitution update.
Joint Position Statement on the Role of Professional Medical Writers
The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) released a Joint Position Statement on the Role of Professional Medical Writers. The position statement describes best practices for professional medical writers, and provides a template for appropriately disclosing medical writing support.
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