Objective To gather information about current practices and implementation of publication guidelines among publication professionals working in or for the pharmaceutical industry.
Design/setting Web-based survey publicised via email and social media to members of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) and other organisations from November 2012 to February 2013.
Participants 469 individuals involved in publishing industry-sponsored research in peer-reviewed journals, mainly working in pharmaceutical or device companies (‘industry’, n=144), communication agencies (‘agency’, n=238), contract research organisations (CRO, n=15) or as freelancers (n=34). Most respondents (78%) had worked on medical publications for ≥5 years and 62% had a PhD/MD.
Results Over 90% of industry, agency and CRO respondents routinely refer to Good Publication Practice (GPP2) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors’ Uniform Requirements. Most respondents (78% industry, 79% agency) received mandatory training on ethical publication practices. Over 90% of respondents’ companies had publication guidelines or policies and required medical writing support to be acknowledged in publications (96% industry, 99% agency). Many industry respondents used publication management tools to monitor compliance with company guidelines and about half (46%) stated that their company had formal publication audits. Fewer agencies audited adherence to guidelines but 20% of agency respondents reported audits of employees and 6% audits of freelancers. Of concern, 37% of agency respondents reported requests from authors or sponsors that they believed were unethical, although 93% of these requests were withdrawn after respondents explained the need for compliance with guidelines. Most respondents’ departments (63% industry, 58% agency, 60% CRO) had been involved in publishing studies with negative or inconclusive results.
Conclusions Within this sample, most publication professionals working in or for industry were aware of, and applying, major publication guidelines. However, the survey also identified specific areas where education and promotion of guidelines are needed to ensure ethical publication practices.
- Medical Journalism
- Medical Ethics
- Medical Education & Training
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