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As medical writers, we are responsible for aspects such as research, grammar, form, flow, context, and many other things. However, during our education, be it at school or on-the-job, we are seldom taught about the world of instructional design, even though it is something that is inherent to our writing. Instructional design takes medical writing one step further and focuses on the importance of the learner, the goals of a program, and the steps required to meet that goal. As writers, we must ensure that our pieces meet the goal of what we are trying to achieve. It is not enough to simply accept a job without asking the proper questions. We must consider the ...
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By Monica Nicosia, PhD, and Kathy Boltz, PhD Would you like to find tools to help you work more efficiently? Are you leery of technology? Do you worry about cyber security? Do you see yourself in any of these statistics 1 about freelance medical communicators? For time tracking, 32% use spreadsheets and 40% don’t use any software/app For accounting/bookkeeping, 42% use spreadsheets and 20% don’t use any software/app If you answered yes to any of these questions, come to our Tools to Thrive in a Digital World session at the 2018 AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference . During this session, we are going to unpack the ...
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I always obtain some new ideas and tips for boosting productivity at the AMWA annual conference and other AMWA meetings. This year I’m illustrating the most effective 27 tips and strategies for efficiently writing a scientific or clinical manuscript on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 9 am to 10 am at the AMWA annual conference in Washington, DC. Many of the tips are applicable to writing other types of documents. Here’s a brief teaser: Efficiently writing any document, especially a scientific or clinical manuscript, reduces your stress and helps you provide the “on time, on target, and on budget” deliverable to your boss or clients. To make the most of your time, the ...
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Kristina Wasson-Blader, PhD, ELS Editor-at-Large Can you believe it’s been 7 months since the Medical Writing & Communication Conference in Orlando, Florida? It was about this time last year that I sat down and read the Conference Brochure to start my plan of what I wanted to attend. As I was cleaning my office recently, I came across that list (we can talk about my paper hoarding later). Looking over this list, I realized that there were a lot of open sessions I wanted to attend but ended up at different sessions during those times. Fortunately, the AMWA Journal had volunteer reporters who attended most of the open sessions and provided summaries of ...
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Finding Your Happy

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PhD, postdoc, professor. Secure funding, publish results, repeat. If you would have asked me 13 years ago what my career path as a blossoming research scientist was going to look like, it probably would have been something along those lines. I definitely would not have told you that I was going to be a medical writer. As many experience, PhD students are often presented with one career path: research. Maybe a foray into government or industry, but always at the bench; that’s what PhDs are supposed to do. Somewhere in my third year I realized that, although I loved learning and talking about science, I didn’t necessarily love doing science. I loved teaching ...
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Ruwaida Vakil, MSc Freelance Forum section editor Freelance medical writers often work from home and miss out on the daily interactions that benefit many onsite medical writers. Networking both in person and online, intelligently sourcing online information, and attending conferences can help overcome these barriers. The Freelance Forum of the AMWA Journal is a section dedicated to the issues frequently faced by freelances. In each issue, your fellow AMWA freelances provide their expertise on the most common questions that freelances face. In the Spring 2018 issue ( Vol 33, No 1 ) of the Freelance Forum several experienced freelances participated in ...
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Mary E. Knatterud, PhD is the founder and coordinator of the North Central Chapter Book Club With apologies to Shakespeare for the title of this blog (a genre he no doubt would’ve found both playful and useful), this 12th year of my chapter’s Book Club can be summed up in the following equation: 3 books on medicine/communication per year + a mean of 4 to 5 non-mean AMWA colleagues = immeasurable professional, intellectual, and social growth A dozen years ago, after conversations with half-a-dozen fellow longtime North Central Chapter members also seeking to animate and regularize our programming, I organized a Book Club, which first met in January 2007. ...
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By Dominic De Bellis, PhD Section Editor, AMWA Journal Science Series As a music lover and musician I remember ( key word here! ) when Paul Simon’s Graceland album was released on CD (1986, Warner Bros. Records, Inc.). And, yes the play on words with the song title above should become evident as you continue reading. The song title describes “a kind of South African funk/dance groove,” explained Paul Simon in the liner notes to this CD; and it’s a catchy groove too! But, more poignantly for me, it reminds me that remembering this song title, or any other past fact no matter how new or old, is something more precious than we realize. Let’s take a look ...
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Here at AMWA, we know our members are our most valuable benefit. Each and every one of you is professional, ethical, and incredibly generous with your time and expertise. Thanks to you, AMWA is known for being a warm and welcoming community that shares a common purpose to promote excellence in medical communication. With your support, AMWA can expand this amazing community and add more value to your membership experience. Invite a medical writing colleague to join AMWA today! For every member who joins AMWA thanks to your referral, you will be entered into a raffle to win a free registration for the Medical Writing & Communication Conference . As ...
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It’s 2018, and women in America still have to work until Tuesday to earn what men earned by Friday of the previous week. If you’re a woman you should be outraged. And if you’re a man, you should also be outraged. Today, April 10, is Equal Pay Day. I support Equal Pay Day, and the efforts of the National Committee on Pay Equity . Note that I don’t “celebrate” Equal Pay Day. That’s because, unfortunately, there’s not much to celebrate. When the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, women earned 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men. According to a 2003 report, the US General Accounting Office noted a 20% gap in earnings between women and men that couldn’t ...
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Kimberly Korwek, PhD Around the Career Block section editor AMWA is well known as a valuable resource for new medical writers, but it offers a wealth of career-building tools for every stage. I have selected 3 articles that have some great insight for your career, whether you are just starting out, looking for your next move, or just want to keep yourself competitive. Whether you are booking your first client or your fiftieth, a little inside perspective from a hiring manager never hurts. In her article, Getting Noticed, Hired, and Rehired: Tips from an In-House Freelance Hiring Manager , Linda Rinehart shares her advice for landing a job—and keeping ...
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Jennifer Bridgers, MS, MWC Regulatory Insights Editor, AMWA Journal The AMWA Journal Winter 2017 issue offered a diverse selection of articles about clinical trials. In conjunction with this issue, I want to share some resources from the AMWA Journal that discuss ways to plan ahead in clinical trials. As with any project, good planning helps achieve better results when conducting clinical trials.   At their most basic, clinical trials seek to answer the research question with meaningful results while minimizing the burden on participants. In Hypothesis Testing in Clinical Trials , Thomas M. Schindler discussed hypothesis testing, including ...
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Cyndy Kryder, MS Social Media Section Editor The fourth week in January is already underway. Have you kept your 2018 resolutions? The AMWA Journal has. Throughout the year AMWA Journal section editors will be curating articles from past issues around selected topics and sharing that content with you. We’re kicking off the year with a focus on social media. Have you resolved to build your brand through the use of Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms? If so, then these 3 AMWA Journal articles can help guide you. Click here to download the compilation. The first article, Using Social Media for Marketing: Harnessing the Power of Twitter, ...
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Welcome to 2018! The beginning of a new year is always a wonderful time to revisit the themes and stories that caught our shared attention in the past year. Over the course of 2017, AMWA members explored new research, guidelines, and technological advances that affect the dynamic profession of medical communication. Medical Communication News , AMWA’s bimonthly e-newsletter for members, provides an executive summary of noteworthy articles of interest to the medical communication industry. In 2017, the three most popular Medical Communication News article themes were Predatory journals Open-access publishing Policies and procedures for peer review ...
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The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) is deeply concerned about the controversy surrounding an article that appeared on Friday, December 15, in The Washington Post, “ CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity .” Although the CDC has not yet released its own statement, many national health organizations have issued strong statements in response to The Washington Post article, including the American Medical Association , the American Association for the Advancement of Science , the Center for Plain Language , the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy , the HIV Medicine Association , the Pediatric Infectious ...
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Danny Benau, Director of Biomedical Writing Programs The Master of Science in Biomedical Writing program at The University of the Sciences is unique because it is a fully online academic program that incorporates all three general areas of medical writing: regulatory, promotional, and education as an integrated curriculum granting academic credit. The two certificate programs: Regulatory Writing and Marketing Writing, are specialized subsets of the MS program. The certificate programs are recommended for people who are already in the medical writing industry, want the knowledge from a select set of courses, and don’t want another degree. One of the things ...
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JAMA Revisited. Medical Writing JAMA 2017;318(6):579. Do you have a bucket list of articles on medical writing—you know, those articles that still make you think, even when you have read them over and over? Although it might be 50 years old (or perhaps because it is…), this 1967 JAMA Revisited article on medical writing would make a fine addition or a solid start to your bucket list.* In this blog (or blogtable or blable), I highlight how the world of medical writing has improved…or not…in the last 50 years. You may or may not agree with my opinions, but I do hope you enjoy a moment of reflection and, more importantly, that you find a way to help advance ...
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Christina M. Frey, Co-executive, Editorial Freelancers Association How might we best support the unique needs of freelance editorial professionals? In the early 1970s, a handful of freelance editors began meeting in New York City to discuss that question and to network and share resources as they took on the gig economy. Over time the group formalized into the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), which has now grown to nearly 2,500 members located across the United States and internationally. Nearly five decades after its beginnings, the association continues to adapt to the evolving needs of the publishing industry. No longer limited to a single geographic ...
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Networking at #AMWA2017

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There are so many reasons to attend a conference in your field, such as the 2017 Medical Writing & Communication Conference . Great educational opportunities? Check. Intensive workshops facilitated by knowledgeable and experienced presenters? Check. The chance to get away from the office and refresh your motivation and enthusiasm for the field and your career? Check. But experienced conference-goers know why they really go to conferences in their field. It’s the Networking. For many folks used to sitting at home on their computer thinking and writing and editing, this may strike fear in their hearts. But I am here to tell you it’s the best thing about ...
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Getting Ethics RIGHT

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By Tamara Ball, MD / Principal Medical Writer, INC Research/inVentiv Health Clinical, Raleigh, NC;  Everyday Ethics Editor, AMWA Journal People with extensive training often wish to be recognized as professionals engaging in a profession rather than as technicians providing a service or workers doing a job. The crucial element that transforms an occupation into a profession is a shared ethic. Therefore, medical communicators need a solid background in ethics and a maturing appreciation for its nuances. As a bonus, exploring ethics can be fun! There may be only one correct value for a primary study endpoint, but ethics is filled with endless possibilities. ...
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