Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Med writing

EMWA conference 2011

The EMWA conference in Berlin is nearly upon us, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. I've rather foolishly agreed to teach 3 workshops this time round (mainly about statistics), so I shall be working hard, but I'm sure it will be fun nonetheless. Always great to catch up with fellow medical writers from around Europe over a beer or two! Do come and say hello if you're going to be there.

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Bias in papers about bias

I have just read a paper describing how Evil Big Pharma manipulates the medical literature so that they can make more money from selling their drugs, no matter what the science says. That paper made me grumpy.


Well, if you are going to write a scientific paper criticising someone for introducing bias into the scientific literature, would it be too much to ask that you should do it in an unbiased way? What makes me grumpy is when people write papers about how evil and biased the pharmaceutical industry is (and this is certainly not the first such paper), but then themselves distort the facts to make a point.

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European Statistical Forum

I shall be speaking at the European Statistical Forum in Verona later this week, about the role of medical writers in reporting clinical trials.

It's a topic close to my heart, about which I have spoken many times before, but usually to audiences of medical writers. It will be nice to speak to a different audience and make the statistical community more aware of some of the issues of publication ethics.

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EMWA conference in Nice, day 1

I'm typing this from my hotel room at the EMWA conference in Nice, as the first full day of the conference draws to a close.

The journey here yesterday afternoon did not go smoothly, but at least I got here in the end, and I resisted the temptation to send any tweets about blowing up Heathrow Airport to vent my frustration with the delays. I was just in time for the opening lectures, the first given by Helen Baldwin, former EMWA president and British expat living near Nice, about life as a medical writer in the south of France. It sounds lovely. The second was given by EMWA's resident language guru, Alistair Reeves, about why sensible people write daft things. It was thoroughly entertaining, as well as surprisingly educational. A good start to the conference. Rounded the evening off with a trip to the old town for dinner with some friends, always a pleasure to catch up.

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Pharma companies, patients, and social networking

Last week I spent a fascinating day in Oxford at the MedComms Strategic Forum 2010. It was a varied day, in which many aspects of medical communications were discussed. Apart from the ever-welcome opportunity to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and also to be able to put faces to names I had previously only known in places like Twitter, I took part in some thought provoking exchanges of ideas about how the role of medical communications is evolving.

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Autumn EMWA conference now open for booking

I'm pleased to see that the next EMWA conference, which will take place in Nice in November, is now open for booking. Nice is a lovely city, so it should provide a great environment for a couple of days of meeting other medical writers from around Europe. I'll be teaching 2 workshops this time round, one on basic concepts of clinical study design (a nice gentle introduction, aimed at those new to clinical research) and a more advanced one on ANOVA and regression analysis for those wishing to brush up their statistical knowledge.

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Evidence that medical writers improve papers

It is widely believed in the medical writing community that professional medical writers write better papers than people who are not professional medical writers.

It seems a logical proposition, doesn't it? After all, it's generally accepted that brain surgeons are better at doing brain surgery than people who are not brain surgeons, that airline pilots are better at flying planes than people who are not airline pilots, and that bankers are better at running banks than people who are not bankers (OK, maybe that last example wasn't such a good one, but you get the idea).

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Medical writing courses

We still have places left for our introduction to medical writing course on 17 September, but be quick if you want to register! Please click here for more details.

We also have places left on our more advanced course on 28 October.

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More on industry vs non-industry publications

Yesterday I wrote about a recent paper in Annals of Internal Medicine, comparing publications funded by the pharmaceutical industry with those from different funding sources. The main focus of that post was on the reasons why industry publications were more likely to report favourable results.

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Research on industry vs non-industry publications

An interesting paper, by Florence Bourgeois and colleagues, was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last week (sadly behind a paywall, but the abstract is available here).

The paper looked at outcomes of trials registered on clinicaltrials.gov, and compared those funded by the pharmaceutical industry with those funded by other sources. The results make interesting reading.

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