Blogs

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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 the ...
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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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Get Out of Disney

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As promised in my article in the latest AMWA Journal, I am sharing information on things to do while you’re in Orlando for the conference. AMWA staff has provided lots of good information already on the website, so please start there: http://www.amwa.org/Hotel_and_Travel But if you’d like to get out of Disney, I have some ideas for that, too! So what can you do when you want to get away from Disney and explore a bit more of Orlando? Get outside and explore Florida’s natural beauty; there are many options here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g34515-Activities-c57-Orlando_Florida.htm Take in one of the many dinner theaters, such as these ...
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By Rochelle Mills, PhD I am excited to present a 90 minute session on the evolving regulatory landscape surrounding biologic and biosimilar medicines at AMWA’s annual conference in Orlando. Biologics and copycat biosimilars are complex protein-based pharmaceuticals that are harder to manufacture than their conventional small molecule counterparts. This makes them the Ferraris of the drug world . As of 2015 in the United States, only 2% of the population uses them, but 40% of prescription drug spending is on biologics.  Biologics are a rapidly growing sector of the drug market, composing 10% of new FDA drug approvals in 2005 and 32% of approvals in ...
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By Margaret Smith, BA, Editor/Writer, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC Battered in the Storm. The prose was so dense, an army of weedwhackers couldn’t possibly whir through it. No graphics cast their rays of light and color on the text because there had been no time to create them. Sections rushed in for editing as though driven by heavy wind. A different author had written each section, and to gather them into something cohesive would take far more time than the deadline would allow—and that deadline loomed in the distance, as ominous as a weeping willow thrashing in a storm. The situation seemed hopeless and could easily have been avoided. ...
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By Donald Harting MA, ELS, CHCP As you can see in the pie chart, continuing education medical writers are a minority membership category within AMWA. Our slice of pie may not be the largest, but it is still sweet. Where else can you get paid to learn about state-of-the-art drugs for exotic diseases, tell stories about medical breakthroughs, and interact with thought leaders across multiple specialties?  During AMWA’s annual conference in Orlando, I will be one of 3 experienced medical writers offering a 90-minute introduction to writing for this specialized market. My distinguished co-presenters will be Nathalie Turner MS, ELS, who works as a senior grant ...
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By Liz Pohland, Chief Executive Officer, Society for Technical Communication As the Society for Technical Communication’s next CEO (as of this Spring), I write this post with a lot of enthusiasm and confidence about the future of technical communication. Like AMWA, STC is a professional membership association dedicated to helping its members communicate complex, technical content clearly and effectively. STC offers robust programming, including an annual conference, certification, education, publications, and many member perks such as an affinity program and mentor and job boards. STC celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2018. In this time of rapid technological ...
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By Patti Peeples, RPh, PhD and Tom Drake, MA, CMPP Medical writers are known for their ninja-like skills, demonstrating agility across numerous therapeutic areas and publication types. Have you been asked to sharpen your proverbial sword (err, pen) and apply it to topics like cost-effectiveness, real world evidence (RWE), or HEOR (health economics and outcomes research)? Do you wish you had more dexterity in this area? Increasingly, addressing the value of an intervention is a common part of the communication plan, and medical writers are often called upon to convey value concepts by reporting HEOR and real-world data. This request may instill fear in some, ...
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If you have been a lead writer or a substantive contributor to a Section 2.7.3 (Summary of Clinical Efficacy) of the CTD, we are interested in your experience.  My colleague Linda Wood, MPH and I are conducting a survey entitled Methods of Content Creation for the Summary of Clinical Efficacy (SCE, Section 2.7.3 of the Common Technical Document). The primary objective of the survey is to determine the methods that a writer of an SCE uses to create content for that document. Content is defined as text, in-text tables, and figures. Methods of creation include de novo writing, repurposed writing, and “provided” writing. We are soliciting responses from qualified ...
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by Jennifer Deyton, Board Member, CSE Off the heels of this year’s annual meeting in San Diego, I want to highlight the Council of Science Editor’s 60 years of achievements. As a long-standing member of the Council of Science Editors (CSE) and a new board member, I am most impressed at the longevity of the society and the continued production of resources that service the publishing industry. Here are just a few of the highlights: CSE’s 60 YEARS OF ACHIEVEMENTS 1957 -  The first Biological Editors meet 1959 -  Vol 1 No1, Conference of Biological Editors Newsletter, later CBE Newsletter 1969- The first CBE Meritorious Award (now the CSE Award ...
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Once Upon a Time

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl who begged her mother for every book she saw. With each new book, the girl couldn’t wait to get home and have her mom read it to her, and then the girl would read it back. The little girl may not have known all the exact words written in the book, but she could retell the story. Yes, that girl was me, and to this day, I love to escape in the story of a good book. I am not alone in my love of stories; we all love stories. Why? A story engages you. It taps into your imagination. It connects you with others. Journalists have known the secret of stories for years, using a personal story to draw readers in to learn more ...
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By Dominic De Bellis, PhD, Section Editor - AMWA Journal, Science Section                DNA, genes, protein synthesis, cloning…these are all terms we have likely heard of in our work as medical writers and editors. These specialized terms have very specific usage as do the myriad other scientific and medical terms we employ in our daily work. Knowing how to use specialized terms is critical to good medical writing, but doing so while using clear and plain language is all the more challenging. As I move forward in my new role as Section Editor of the AMWA Journal’s Science Section, I am pleased to be in a position to help select and refine the scientific ...
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Creating Your Brand

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As I look back at my career, I am struck by two driving thoughts: “how on earth did I get here” and “this has been one amazing ride for a kid from Alabama”. From the time I looked through my first microscope in Mrs. Conner’s fifth grade class, I knew my journey would be science-based, but I had no idea what the destination would be or how much fun I would have getting there. If someone asked me to define what has made me successful, in just one word, that word would be “relationships”. The relationships that I have made and nurtured throughout my professional journey are the foundation on which my life and my business are based. Whether we are talking my role ...
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If you’ve ever attended an AMWA annual conference or the Delaware Valley Chapter (DVC) Princeton Conference or Freelance Workshop, or even glanced at the Freelance Forum column in the AMWA Journal, chances are you’re familiar with Brian Bass, this year’s recipient of the Harold Swanberg Distinguished Service Award. Named in honor of the physician who founded AMWA, the Swanberg Award is presented to an active member of AMWA who has made distinguished contributions to medical communication or rendered unusual and distinguished services to the medical profession. That describes Brian to a T. Full disclosure, Brian and I are business partners in a little venture ...
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AMWA Journal Guest Blog Post by Michael Willis, President, ISMTE As I write this I have just returned from ISMTE’s 2nd Asian-Pacific conference in Beijing, our first in China, attended by approximately 130 journal managing editors, editors-in-chief, and others in the journal publishing world, with a programme relevant to the day-to-day lives of ISMTE’s members: journal metrics, open access publishing, publication ethics, best practice in the journal editorial office, the China publishing landscape, and much more. The conference provided an excellent visual illustration of ISMTE’s mission statement of “empowering editorial offices around the world.” ...
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As Lori Alexander wrote in her blog post a couple of weeks ago, the AMWA Award speakers are “the highlight of every AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference.” But this is not just because of the information they provide during their Award Address. We can learn so much about their respective areas of expertise if we take the time to research them (and Lori and I have done some of the work for you!). It’s kind of like when you armchair travel to a location before your vacation; you get so much more out of a location that way. And we think the same is true of our Award-winning speakers! Alvarez Award Winner As fellow Executive Committee member ...
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National Pack Rat Day

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By Gail Flores, PhD When I was growing up, we used to receive mail order catalogs that sold “unique gifts and household products.” One product that repeatedly caught my eye was a plaque that read “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius.” My mother refused to buy it for me, and as a 9-year-old without access to a checking account or credit card, I was out of luck. This blog post coincides with National Pack Rat Day , which falls on May 17. By definition (Google, not Taber’s), a pack rat is “a person who saves unnecessary objects or hoards things.” To celebrate National Pack Rat Day, we are directed to dejunk and declutter – a sort of late-Spring cleaning. ...
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