“In The Know” highlights various updates in medical publications, to keep professionals apprised of recent developments.

AMWA, EMWA, ISMPP Contest Remarks about Professional Medical Writers in JAMA Oncology Publication

In a Letter to the Editor published in JAMA Oncology on August 26, 2021, derogatory remarks about professional medical writers (MWs) made by Del Paggio et al.1 in a study published in JAMA Oncology were contested by the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), the European Medical Writers Association (EWMA), and the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP).

The study reported on phase III randomized clinical trial (RCT) design, funding, results, and reporting of oncology RCTs published in seven major journals between 2010 and 2020. In addition, the study reported on the involvement of MWs in these RCTs, which “increased substantially during the study period (from 3 of 27 [11%] in 2010 to 12 of 18 [67%] in 2020; P < .001).” Authors Thomas Schindler, Jacqueline Marchington, and Gail Flores noted that they “welcome this increased transparency about the involvement of MWs in publications.”

Remarks about MWs made by the authors in the Discussion section stated, “There is reason to be concerned that medical writers may unduly influence the interpretation of trials, …as it is unlikely that medical writers have a neutral effect on the clinical trial reporting.” The authors also considered the role of MWs to be “contrary to accepted scientific principles.”

To substantiate the involvement of MWs, Schindler, Marchington, and Flores raised results of independent research on medical writing support; outcome improvements with the involvement of MWs in preparing manuscripts; and adherence to Good Publication Practice (GPP3) guidelines, ethical principles, and professional codes of conduct. The response was endorsed by leadership at AMWA, EMWA, and ISMPP. Access the Letter to the Editor.

1 Del Paggio JC, Berry JS, Hopman WM, et al. Evolution of the Randomized Clinical Trial in the Era of Precision Oncology. JAMA Oncol. 2021;7(5):728–734. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.0379

AMA Manual of Style: Updated Guidance on Reporting of Race and Ethnicity

Updated guidance on the reporting of race and ethnicity in medical and science journals is being added to the Inclusive Language section of the AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (subsection 11.12.3, Race and Ethnicity). An Editorial published in JAMA2 on August 17, 2021, states that “the goal of this guidance is to provide recommendations and suggestions that encourage fairness, equity, consistency, and clarity in use and reporting of race and ethnicity in medical and science journals.”

The Editorial highlighted the comments, review, and revision process; provided background information; and presented the updated guidance, which contains these sections:

  • Definitions
  • Concerns, Sensitivities, and Controversies in Health Care and Research
  • Guidance for Reporting Race and Ethnicity in Research Articles
  • Additional Guidance for Use of Racial and Ethnic Collective Terms
  • Capitalization
  • Adjectival Usage for Specific Categories
  • Geographic Origin and Regionalization Considerations
  • Abbreviations
  • Guidance for Journals and Publishers That Collect Data on Editors, Authors, and Peer Reviewers

2 Flanagin A, Frey T, Christiansen SL, AMA Manual of Style Committee. Updated Guidance on the Reporting of Race and Ethnicity in Medical and Science Journals. JAMA. 2021;326(7):621–627. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.13304

9th Peer Review Congress Postponed to September 2022

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nineth International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication has been moved to September 8-10, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois, one year later than its original congress dates in September 2021. Abstracts for the Peer Review Congress can be submitted between December 1, 2021, and January 15, 2022.

Peer Review Congress organizers will host a Free Virtual Symposium, on September 14, 2021 (registration is required), to share information on the 9th Peer Review Congress and the Call for Research and Abstracts, plus discuss hot topics in peer review and scientific publishing, including:

  • How the Pandemic has Affected Peer Review, Publishing, and the Dissemination of Science
  • Inclusion and Diversity and Bias in Peer Review and Scientific Publication
  • New Forms of Reporting Science, Quality Assurance of Reported Science, and Reporting Guidelines
  • Testing of Innovations in Peer Review and Publishing
PubMed: New Features and a Three-Step Literature Search Process

A Viewpoint article3 published in JAMA on July 26, 2021, noted updates to PubMed over the past two years to improve functionality and add new features, such as search statements to identify COVID-19 articles and a filter for PubMed searches to retrieve early-release preprints. The Viewpoint article also described how the new PubMed features and functions could facilitate a three-step literature search process to obtain real-time answers to clinical questions:

Step 1: Focus the Clinical Question
Step 2: Use PubMed Clinical Query Filters
Step 3: Refine the Search Terms

3 Kang P, Kalloniatis M, Doig GS. Using Updated PubMed: New Features and Functions to Enhance Literature Searches. JAMA. 2021;326(6):479–480. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.12021

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