Department of Biotechnology, Center for Post Graduate Studies, Jain University, Jayanagar, Bangalore 560 011, India
Received Date: March 02, 2015; Accepted March 19, 2015; Published Date: March 23, 2015
Citation: Koushik AK (2015) Essentials of Medical Writing. J Health Med Informat 6:186. doi: 10.4172/2157-7420.1000186
Copyright: © 2015 Koushik AK. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Medical writing; Skills requirements; Medical publication; Medical editing
These days, pharmaceutical companies, business/knowledge process outsourcing companies (BPOs/KPOs), consulting firms, healthcare industries, and media and publishing companies, all need qualified medical writers. Other examples of employers include academic medical institutions, medical/scientific societies, contract research organizations (CROs), scientific content and healthcare communication companies, and nonprofit organizations. Today, professionals with expertise in both science and writing are in demand more than ever.
Although, there are no approved programs available for the certification of medical writing, the information about the requirements and training can be collected at:
• American Medical Writers’ Association website: http://www.amwa.org/
• National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine website: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
• Science Careers website: sciencecareers.sciencemag.org
However, a certain level of skill and knowledge about the subject is enough to be a medical writer; a competent medical writer should have following qualities:
•Good understanding of scientific, pharmaceutical (Including drug names and composition), and medical terminologies. Many
companies require the medical writers to have a bachelor or master degree in medical sciences or one of the following areas:
♦ Life sciences (Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Zoology, Botany, Environmental Biology, Ethiology etc.)
♦ Nutrition and dietetics
•An excellent command over English language and grammar
•Awareness about modern literature survey tools, presentation methods of research data, publishing, reviewing, and editing requirements
•A good interpretation of target audience needs and along with it a good communication and coordination with various people involved in the process
• Better understanding and perception of project’s requirements and objectives along with ethical and legal issues
•A good sense of organizing thoughts and ideas
•Ability to deliver the projects within a stringent timeline.
The work of a medical writer starts with literature survey. To have an effective material and evidence based facts, initially, a medical writer needs to search the articles and papers related to the topic. This makes the write up very effective.
It is obvious that literature search brings out a pile of raw information, which should be compiled and constructed logically. To make the paper interesting and appealing, it is essential to shape the data and information very effectively, otherwise a reader may end up in a very confused state. A medical writer should take care of the sentence construction, its flow, correlation, understanding and readability without straying from the objective.
Understanding of assembling the facts and information, and a proper format is very important for a medical writer. The draft must be precise, clear and comprehensive. Medical writing steps also include a good deal of revising and rewriting to make the draft more revealing and communicative. The writer should keep the audience in his mind as the language and format totally depend upon the type of audience. Along with it, a medical writer should understand the difference between a research/original article, an editorial or a case report whenever he/she is writing a manuscript to be published in a reputed journal. Understanding of other formats like promotional write ups, patient information materials, and marketing or sales team training materials is also desirable.
The other important aspect is the plagiarism, which is liable to be punished. Sometimes authors use the matter from different publications without giving their reference. They show the copied work as their own. Strict standard operating protocols (SOPs) should be followed in order to avoid any plagiarism or infringement issues. Writers should always avoid copying and using the exact sentences in their drafts as this shows their inability of producing new comprehensive ideas in the form of a new draft.
Medical editing is the other important step in the process of medical publication. Some organizations require a separate pool of medical editing individuals who are experts of English language and grammar. They revise the draft in to their honorary competence in order to have fewer errors in the article, simultaneously increasing the readability of the article. Editors also spend their valuable time to check the plagiarism issue and journal’s standard. It is important for writers to write an original article so as to reduce the editors’ work.
The final step is the approval process where the final draft gets approved for publishing. The specialized reviewers review the draft and give the sign-off if they find it right to get published otherwise they resend it for rewriting or further reviewing process.
If you believe in the power of communication and you have the base of science then certainly you can be a medical writer and certainly you can make a difference. You may not be very good in science but if you are a medical writer you can learn a lot about science.