Jackie Marchington, Director of Global Operations, Caudex UK, summarises the evidence and expert evaluations arising out of a lively, controversial session at the 12th annual meeting of ISMPP, National Harbour, MA, 12 April 2016: ‘Myth busters: separating fact from fiction in our profession’.

Recorded 4 May 2016 at a MedComms Networking event in Oxford. Produced by NetworkPharma.tv

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The myth busters panel session allowed five minutes for presenters to talk about each of five commonly held myths about medical writing.  Journal editors, Richard Smith, formerly of the BMJ, and Jocalyn Clark, Executive Editor at the Lancet, were then given three minutes to evaluate each myth as confirmed, plausible or busted. 

The myths that professional medical writers are ghostwriters and introduce bias were judged plausible, though great progress was conceded in both cases.  Ghostwriters and professional medical writers are mutually exclusive because professional writers, unlike ghost writers, disclose their involvement in a piece of writing and follow professional and ethical guidelines.  Position statements from industry and the actions of professional associations such as the Global Alliance of Publication Professionals (GAPP) are actively fighting the ghosts.  Further, papers involving professional medical writing support have been found to be more compliant with CONSORT guidelines, and journal editors are increasingly recognising that such support can raise reporting standards and overall editorial quality.

The myth that researchers should not need medical writing support was busted by the evaluators.  Most researchers lack the time to write, and language fluency can be an issue, as can lack of training.  ‘Damned if you do [disclose medical writing support], dammed if you don’t’ was confirmed as true, regrettably.  It’s unfair that openness invites criticism; however, non-disclosure is not an option.  That half of all trials remain unpublished was judged plausible, because it’s impossible to quantify the statistics.  The claim is not well evidenced and needs a full assessment.

Written by Penny Gray, Freelance Medical Writer

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We are building a library of free webcasts, like this one, for the global MedComms Community and others at  http://www.networkpharma.tv and we’d welcome your suggestions for new topics and speakers.

Full details of this MedComms Networking event are at http://medcommsnetworking.com/event73.html

Jackie’s presentation (PDF format) is at http://medcommsnetworking.com/presentations/marchington_02_040516.pdf

Jackie’s Linkedin page is at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackiemarchington/

Information about The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) can be found at http://www.ismpp.org

Information about The Global Alliance of Publication Professionals (GAPP) can be found at http://www.gappteam.org

More about Caudex can be found at:

Web: http://www.caudex.com
Twitter: @caudex_medical

Filming and technical direction by Mario Crispino, Freelance Cameraman & Editor

[For the avoidance of doubt: this video is intended to be freely accessible to all. Please feel free to share and use however you like. Cheers Peter Llewellyn, Director NetworkPharma Ltd and Founder of the MedComms Networking Community activity at http://www.medcommsnetworking.com]