Why work with a Medical Writer?

I recently came across an article in the EMWA (European Medical Writers Association) Journal by Hindle et al entitled:

Working with authors to develop high-quality, ethical clinical manuscripts: Guidance for the professional medical writer

The article brought to mind the often underplayed role of medical writers and the common misconception that our role is to do the donkey work of academic and clinical research reporting.

Here, I add to the authors’ points describing the value of medical writers working with authors to publish “well–structured, ethically sound and highly readable” research.

Academic success requires researchers to share their findings and clinical experience. For non-native English speakers and authors unfamiliar with academic publishing, communicating the clinical relevance of their research can be difficult.

Clinical Significance Effectively communicating research findings requires an emphasis on the novelty of the findings and their relevance to clinical practice. Authors should understand the appeal of their findings to the target reader of the chosen journal.

Readability Medical writers have experience presenting complex ideas and data simply. We present findings clearly so they are easy for any reader to understand. Considering readers from all backgrounds is especially important with open access publishing and patient driven care.

Structure and Flow As for readability, we have experience producing manuscripts with a logical flow. We routinely use guidelines such as CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) or STROBE (Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology).

Ethics Most peer-reviewed journals expect manuscripts to meet ethical standards such as ICJME (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) and GPP2 (Good Publication Practice). We use these guidelines routinely so that our writing fundamentally meets these standards.

Intellectual input and scientific integrity of the research and the publication remain the responsibility of the authors. The role of the medical writer rarely meets ICJME criteria for authorship, however the medical writer should be acknowledged as assisting the authors prepare the manuscript.

Writing and publication are the medical writer’s day job so we are set-up to get through the necessary ‘donkey work’ efficiently.