Medical Writing As a Career

Some of the most rewarding career paths are ones that people never intended to take. This is frequently the case for medical writers who did not consider this flourishing field when they began their careers. Medical writing may be an organic change for people with a medical, life science, or academic background seeking to move away from the lab or healthcare institutions because there are no clear qualifications. Passionate writers will find a rewarding career in this inspiring and unique field. Medical writing is in high demand in the communication, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries.

What Is Medical Writing?

Medical Writing is communicating Clinical & Scientific Data clearly and effectively.

Scope of Medical Writing

  • Clinical Research Documentation
  • Content Writer for Health Care
  • Article writing for Healthcare Magazines and Journals

 

Types of Medical Writing

Medical Writing is mainly of two types:

Regulatory and Research Related Writing

  • Focused mostly on Medical & Pharmaceutical Industries.
  • The main audiences are people performing Clinical Trials, Government Regulatory Authorities.
  • The objective is to attain and maintain marketing authorization for new drugs, therapies, medical devices, and other health products.

 

Medical Communications

  • Documents about New Drugs, Therapies, Medical Devices, or other health products.
  • Examples are Scientific Manuscripts, Product Monographs, Conference Abstracts, Posters, Educational Material.

 

What are the Skills Needed to be a Medical Writer?

  • Domain Knowledge – Health Care Knowledge
  • Data Integrity – Data Analysis
  • Clarity – Communication Expertise
  • Language Skills – Scientific Expertise
  • Follow Ethical Standards
  • Knowledge about Legal Concerns
  • Good Writing Skills
  • Literature / Reference Search – Document Review Process
  • Interpretation & Presentation – Document Expertise
  • Formatting & Editing
  • Reviewing Published Paper

 

Courses for Medical Writing

Some of the Medical Writing Certification Courses are as follows:

  • PG Diploma in Medical Writing – 12 Months
  • Professional Diploma in Medical Writing – 4 to 6 Months (Online)
  • Advanced PG Diploma in Clinical Research & Writing – 6 to 8 Months
  • Certificate Program in Medical Writing – 6 Months
  • Free Courses

 

Job Titles for Medical Writers

  • Medical Expert
  • Editorial Manager
  • Senior Writer
  • Associate Writer
  • Junior Writer

 

Roles of Medical Writers

  • Proofreads regulatory documents and clinical documents.
  • Coordinates with Medical professionals.
  • Helps to write research articles.
  • Creates Educational and Informational materials for the Medical kits.
  • Writes Research Findings
  • Creates Standard Operating Procedures for Medical company’s planning

 

Where do Medical Writers work?

  • Pharmaceutical Sector
  • Medical Communication Agencies
  • Contract Research Organization
  • Journal Publishing
  • Biotechnology Sector
  • Medical Device Sector
  • Medical Translations
  • Other (Academic) Sectors

 

Benefits of being a Medical Writer

  • Challenging & Stimulating Work ENVIRONMENT
  • Always learning new things
  • Satisfaction in being an important part of a team
  • Lead groups of Multifunctional Professionals
  • Opportunities to travel

 

Conclusion

Medical Writers do Scientific Documentation. Medical Writing involves the above-mentioned skills and offers a good career. People with medical knowledge and writing skills would have a lot of opportunities.

What Are The Major Reasons For Scientific Manuscript Rejection?

Research paper writing is a specialized skill that all academicians have to learn. While publication is an essential part of the profession, the rates of rejection by journals are too high. Estimates suggest that for highly regarded journals like Cell, Nature, and Science, the rejection rate is as high as 97%! That is to say, of all the 100 submissions, only 3 make it through editorial and peer review scrutiny, and this is for top professionals of their fields! Therefore, it is critical that authors are aware of the reasons for rejection in order to avoid the same.

Top reasons for rejection:

Editorial reasons for Rejection

Mismatched scope: Each journal has a well-defined aim and scope, focusing on some specific area of the field. Often, authors share manuscripts with reputed journals for publication without actually checking if their article matches the journal objectives. It is best to check the scope of the journal before sharing the original manuscript; you may simply write to the editor to enquire if they are interested in an article on the topic you have written on.

Quality of writing: Many times, editors reject articles at the initial screening simply because of poor language. Journals have their own set of writing guidelines, including referencing style, font, etc. Any submission not fulfilling these conditions are automatically rejected. Poor language is another pet peeve of most editors, as is plagiarized content.

Value addition: Editors look for articles that add value to their journals. Often editors will reject articles that they find to be extensions of an earlier publication by the same author, the article has no archival value or adds little to the ongoing discourse.

Technical Reasons for Rejection

The structure: Most articles need to have a basic structure, starting with an introduction, followed by a literature review, methodology, etc. For empirical studies, the methodology, data reporting, etc. have to follow well-established protocols. Failure to adhere to accepted structures will lead to rejection.

Poor data work: Poor or insufficient data work is often the biggest bane. Journals will reject articles if they feel the hypothesis is unclear, data collection and analysis is insufficient or does not measure up to industry standards, poor or insufficient analytical tools, inconclusive data leading to speculation, especially in the conclusion. You need to have clarity on whether you need to undertake parametric or non-parametric tests for your data, whether the sample size is good enough to draw conclusions, whether the proper statistical checks and measures are adhered to, etc.

Poor referencing: Referencing is critical for an original submission, as it is directly linked to the problem of plagiarism. You must ensure that all your sources are duly referred to, and that too in the format specified by the journal. Often, journals will also reject articles if your references have dated articles and they feel you are not updated on the subject, or you are referring to the same article multiple times over the article.

It is advised to be acutely aware of these factors in advance before even drafting the original manuscript for submission.

Plagiarism in Academic writing: How to Identify and Avoid It

Plagiarism is well-known as a breach of publishing ethics which is despised in the academic circle. However, while in some cases the authors engage in deliberate plagiarism, more often than not authors end up being guilty of plagiarism unknowingly. This is because plagiarism, although a very commonly used term, is a vaguely defined concept.

Plagiarism technically means using someone else’s ideas/ intellectual property as one’s own without giving proper credit to the original creator. While the first part (as one’s own) is well understood as improper appropriation, it is often the second part (giving proper credit) where author’s unintentionally falter. 

Some of the most common forms of plagiarism are:

Patchwork: patchwork refers to direct lifting or verbatim representation of another’s work without using quotations or referencing. This is the most blatant form of plagiarism.

Plagiarised ideas: This is when you pass-off someone else’s ideas as your own, even if in your own words or articulation.

Loose paraphrasing: This is the most common form of unintentional plagiarism. Authors, while discussing literature reviews, often write the content of other authors without proper attribution, which technically makes it plagiarism.

Self-plagiarism: This is the most difficult to understand the form of plagiarism. This refers to recycling of one’s own work in multiple publications. While it is difficult to comprehend how one can ‘steal’ from oneself, reproduction of the same work in multiple journal publications or presenting the same content multiple times to bolster the number of one’s publications is a problem in academics that has led to this publishing ethics.

How to avoid unintentional plagiarism:

Proper referencing: while doing your background research, keep meticulous notes of which ideas/sections are from which article. While writing, maintain side notes for proper referencing later while finalizing the article.

Quotes and paraphrasing: authors often tangle themselves up in this issue! For citing what some other author has said, it is advisable to use quotations to drive home a critical or technical detail. While discussing a concept and how others have addressed it, it is better to paraphrase it in one’s own words.

While paraphrasing, one must be careful not to reproduce the same content by just replacing certain words here and there. A proper paraphrasing would be a complete re-articulation of the source material. Proper paraphrasing is rewriting other’s content from one’s own perspective.

In both cases, proper citation or reference is mandatory.

Follow citation rules: every journal has well-defined citation and referencing norms and one must follow them judiciously. Journals nowadays prefer in-text referencing, especially for paraphrasing and quotations and it is a good habit to develop one’s writing style with in-text referencing.

Rewrite your own words: while referring to your own previous works, we often tend to copy-paste paragraphs as one likes one’s own articulation best. However, in order to avoid self-plagiarism, rewrite the content every time for a new article in the context of the new article, and you will see your language will change.

HELPFUL TIPS FOR WRITING PHILOSOPHICAL PAPERS

Philosophical writings are very difficult and vary greatly from writing exercises in other disciplines. Writing a good philosophical paper is both a challenge and a treat, and is perhaps the greatest test of one’s logical reasoning skills and articulation skills. Here are some key points to remember while writing a philosophical paper.

The approach to philosophical writing is quite different from writing in most other subjects. That is because it is neither a research paper based on empirical analysis nor an exercise in literary self-expression which can be an articulation of subjective expressions. It is also not a simple literature review of what various scholars have had to say on a particular topic. Most importantly, it is not to present your personal feelings or impressions.

However, at the same time, philosophical writing is about defending a thesis or hypothesis. Thus, it needs the same rigor in establishing an argument, developing a hypothesis, and then logically defending one’s hypothesis. Arguments lie at the core of philosophical writing, and they are rarely simple arguments. Instead, they often are large, complicated, and sophisticated treatments of fundamental problems or abstract questions in which logical reasoning must be the guiding principle to arrive at logically sound conclusions.

The main trick to writing a good philosophical paper is maintaining focus, being consistent, and clarity in thought and articulation. Philosophy papers usually involve both ‘exposition’ and ‘evaluation’.  In course of exposition, you explain the view or argument under consideration and the views of other thinkers who have worked on this subject.  The evaluation part of the paper is your chance to do some ‘philosophy’ of your own, where you engage with the central question with ‘rational persuasion’.

The key to a well-articulated paper is a logical organization. Logical organization refers not only to one’s arguments but also for planning out the paper. An effective structure requires carefully developed paragraphs and sections, where every paragraph or section must be self-explanatory, continuing a strand of discussion from the previous one and logically leading to the next. The style must be precise, consistent, and focussed. It is suggested to break down sentences that are excessively long and convoluted or paragraph too packed with details and rapid turns of thought, as it creates challenges for readers to digest complex information.

It is critical to have the consistency of terminologies, especially technical ones. Using synonyms is a slippery slope as each has different connotations. Use specialize terminologies used by philosophers whose arguments you are considering, define each one extremely carefully, use it with consistency in your own arguments, providing explanations of even subtle differences in the ways in which different philosophers use it, and more importantly how you interpret it.

Lastly, do not fall prey to the temptation of name dropping or lengthy quotes. Even if you find a heavyweight philosopher who is a kindred soul, your paper should rely on your arguments and not what your fellow thinker has said! Formulate your arguments and articulate them well to establish your credentials as an expert in philosophical writing.

Tips for writing a pharmaceutical research grant

Applying for research grants is a critical part of any young researcher. Each field has its own specifications, and the pharmaceutical research proposal requires a certain focus. The research proposal must establish a strong fundamental understanding of developing pharmaceutical study design/protocol and communicating it successfully to the Grant agencies.

Tips for drafting a proposal for a pharmaceutical research grant:

Preparation: Putting together a proposal itself can take a considerable time. You should focus on writing a research proposal; background preparation, establish a strong team around you, make a contingency plan for applying to several grants. If the grant is received, the entire project would be long and require a considerable time commitment from every team member.

The Research Topic: Critical thinking is the key to win a grant, and it must be reflected in each stage of the research proposal, starting with the topic of choice. Identify which field of study the grant focuses on and whether you have the competency to work on such a field. Your topic must pose a worthwhile question that needs to be answered and must offer tangible benefits within a reasonable and defined period. Concepts should not be too ambitious and lack of proof and low impact may be a deal-breaker.

Innovation: Research grants are competition, and the key differentiator is innovative research. The research proposal must have creative research ideas in the form of novel concepts, approaches, and methodology to be adopted, and the possible results promised. The hypotheses proposed must be testable and measurable by the proposed methods, and predictions must reflect the critical thinking that goes behind the research.

The research plan: any research grant is a fixed monetary commitment for a specified period. Therefore, any research proposal must have a definitive research plan, including timelines, deliverables, and a budgetary outlay justifying the grant money. Reviewers may recommend budget cuts if they think the expenses are too high or unjustified. You should demonstrate that you will manage the award well and emphasize how you will control the finances within the timeline and committed deliverables. The budget must accurately reflect the plan for data collection, data analysis, and data write up and give breakup for each head like personnel, infrastructure, overhead costs, material expenses, etc.

Review: writing for a pharmaceutical research grant successfully requires expertise and experience. Each proposal has to follow certain formats as mandated by each granting agency. Such formats often have strict word limits and predetermined reporting structures. You must be very careful to follow the instructions meticulously. It is best to consult your peers/ seniors/ or fellow colleagues to review the proposal. A review not only helps check if the proposal meets the format but also helps ensure the actual message is strongly communicated even in that limited structure.

Mastering the three stages of manuscript editing

Editing your own creative work could sometimes seem intimidating, mainly because looking at your own work with a critical eye is not as easy as it seems. It’s not just about spelling and grammar. Editing is a skill that sometimes requires you to get rid of even your most favorite terms and terminologies. To be a great editor, you would have to detach yourself from your own script and get acquainted with the ‘backspace’ button.

Here are the three stages of manuscript writing:

Content or Substantive Edit

This is the most time-consuming part of manuscript editing. Remember, there is always a better way to present your manuscript. Start by giving yourself some time away from your script so that you can develop a fresh take on what you’ve written. The focus of your editing exercise this time should be on the structural aspect, and you would need to pay attention to what works well and what looks awry. Revisit your overall paper at least three times, pay attention to the text, data, accuracy, and overall consistency and presentation. A professional subject matter editor always takes care of the content issues to make sure your writing is ready to be submitted for publication.

Copy Edit  

Once you have dealt with the structural errors by making the necessary revisions, it’s time to copy edit your paper to ensure correct formatting, grammar, margins, font size, etc. This includes all things technical and presentation-based. Copy editing requires you to pay attention to the tone, language, phrasing, parts of the speech, undue repetitions, etc. A copy edit makes your work free of any technical errors that might be a hindrance at the acceptance stage in the publication cycle. It is indeed a skill, and good copy-editing includes eliminating any wordiness in order to improve readability. Even though copy editing does not take as much time as a content edit, you would still be required to give a good amount of your time to this.

Proofreading  

Proofreading is the third stage in editing your manuscript. Unlike copy edit and content edit, this stage requires you to separate your text into sections, and concentrate on one section at a time. You can consider printing a hard copy if reading online is a problem. By now, you must have clearly understood the focus of the overall paper; therefore at this stage, you must examine each sentence individually for syntax, spelling, and grammar. You should recheck any dates, data, names of people, places, etc. that you have mentioned in the text to ensure accuracy.

Conclusion

We live in a world of technology, and a lot of things become easier with the resources available online. To support your manuscript editing skill, do not hesitate to refer to online applications or websites that might come handy to do minor language, spelling, and phrasing edits. Also, it is advisable to let peers re-read your scripts before starting the edit to incorporate third-party suggestions.

How to understand the quality of a journal article?

If you are an author with experience of publishing articles or are fairly new, you have to decide and determine whether or not your article has the top-notch quality or not. In the theoretical framework of your thesis, you support your research work with something called a literature review. In this case, you look at the research that is done on a similar subject as yours, before you have published.

Why is the quality of an article so important?

As you may know, there are hundreds of articles published by journals, the editors at the journal are extremely busy people and they might just spot one little mistake and discard your hard work or ask you to redo some parts of it. Pre determining the quality of work is crucial if you want to save time, money and resources.

Following are some points that will help you get a hold of this:

  1. Where are the articles being published?

It is important to know in which journal the article has been published. There are many journals out there that will promise you exposure to the community and what not but only a few of them have the reputation that you really want. It might be difficult for you get through some of the big names in the publishing business but doing your bid of research can help you identify the next best journal suited to your needs. Also always look out of indexed journals.

  1. What is the date of the article that is published?

As you may already know that more importance is given to the recent and more updated pieces of research papers or articles. This is not to discourage that your work is any less than other or the fact that a new work is superior but that is a common overview of the industry.

  1. Have you come across other opinions on the article?

What are other researchers saying about the particular paper? People who are writing them are they credible? These are some of the important questions you need to ask while you choose an article to do your work on. Opinions or reviews of the article will also save you a lot of time that you could utilize on your own article.

  1. Dig a little deeper

A paper that is published in a reputed journal will definitely have relevant citations to substantiate their study. If the article you followed does not help you the way you wanted it to, you may find your calling with the papers and articles that are cited in the first work you followed.

  1. Let’s score it

Using the above-mentioned parameters, you may now score the paper. You may do it on a piece of paper, use a white board or just remember it—whatever floats your boat. You should always spend more time on understanding the quality of the journal before you apply it to your work. How does this help?  Scoring is just a way to understand the paper you are interested in. the only thing that matters with doing this exercise is to understand if an article is worth your time and energy.

Tips To Write An Article Review

According to ResearchGuide “An article review is a piece of writing where you summarize and assess another person’s article.”

A review paper is a professional paper writing which gives an in-depth analysis and a well-structured presentation of arguments. It is an acute and constructive evaluation of literature in a particular field by summarizing it. Writing a scientific review will give you access to database searches to frame the research. Its goal is to summarize everything and present a clear understanding of the topic of your choice.

There are different types of article review:

  • Journal: It is a type of article review that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of a publication.
  • Research: In this type of review, the research method is evaluated to analyze and critique the given information.
  • Science: A scientific article review includes anything in the world of science.

Following are 6 key points to keep in mind when writing a review article:

  1. It is not a list of conclusions for a paper

Do you have something new to say or add the paper? This is an important question one should ask them before starting to write a review. The reader of your review should be able to learn and take away something of value from it.  Make it a point to include comparison, critique and assessment of the studies you are reviewing.

  1. Submit a proposal before writing a manuscript

It is advised to reach out to editors of the journal of your choice before writing a review since they will be able to guide you to understand whether or not writing this review will be of anyone’s benefit. This will increase your chances of getting your paper published.

For the proposal, give clear reasons why the particular topic/subject is important. You may need to give stronger reasons why you need to write this review.

  1. Have a good structure/framework of your article

After figuring out the purpose of writing this paper, move your focus to have a clear outline that will make you aware of the path you want to follow with this article. This not only makes your article much clearer but it will also help work on the DO’S and the DONT’S of your article review.

  1. Avoid using heavy words

Jargons could be easier for a seasoned researcher to understand but for someone who is starting off it could be really difficult. You are writing it as a subject expert but the person reading it may not be as skilled and informed as you are. Hence, this is an important thing to keep in mind that you’ve to write the review to appeal to the wider range of readers. In case you most definitely have to use technical terms, do not forget to mention them in the glossary.

  1. Always follow the journal’s guidelines

You wouldn’t want your review article to be rejected because you ignored this crucial step would you? Chances are you already know what journal guidelines are. If you don’t, it is basically set of rules that vary from journal to journal that instruct you on how to edit, format and submit your paper in a certain way that the particular journal follows before it is published. This is done to save time for the publisher and the writer.

  1. Read and re-read your first draft

As mentioned in previous blogs before, give your piece of work a fresh set of eyes i.e., ones you believe you have completed it take a break, get on to other ventures and work you have and come back after a few days. This will make it easier for you to spot any mistakes that you might have skipped over the first. You make this process faster, you may hire an editor who will do the same for you on your behalf and fine-tune it even further.

How to increase citation count for any research paper in 10 different ways

If you are an already published author, you may know how important the number of citations to your research work is. For those who are students or someone just here to know how it all works, read on!

A citation can be simply defined as “a reference to the source of information used in your research”. The amount of papers you publish is important to your career. However, the number of time your work gets cited by others is even more vital as it shows the impact your research has in that particular field. Increasing citations may help in securing funding for your research too as agencies look at combination as well as number citation made in a paper before making decisions on research grants.

Here are 10 things that you should keep in mind in order to be a well-published and frequently cited author:

  1. Cite your own previous work(s)                                                                                        

It is always a good idea to cite your previous work in your current or ongoing paper but it only if your previous work is relevant to your new one. However, it is not advised to cite every work you have ever done to increase your citations. To someone evaluating your work, it may give off a vibe that you may not want them to have.

  1. Select unique keywords                                                                                              

Based on the topic of your research paper, choose a handful of keywords (4-6) that you feel researchers in your field will be using to search for data. Try incorporating them throughout your paper, using them on abstract, headings or subheadings and making sure it is not repetitive.

  1. Keep your name consistent in all your work

This may not seem as interesting but it is also true that keep your name consistent on all your works will help you get the credits that you deserve. Apart from paper, use the same technique on your emails and email signatures, preferably a professional one. If you have a fairly common name, consider getting a research identifier such as an ORCID.

  1. Crosscheck your data before you publish

Aside from reading, re-reading and proofreading your paper, do the same for any data that will help connect a researcher back to you. Incorrect information may make an author drop your citation altogether.

  1. Share part of your information to the public

Platforms like SlideShare, Datacite, Figshare or Wikipedia can help your work reach out more people irrespective of your work available for a fee or open to all. If your paper is open access, publish your pre or post-publication work to a repository.

  1. Socialize and present your paper at conferences

Conferences are the best place for any researcher to understand the current trends in a particular. While this may not dramatically increase citations of your work, it sure will boost more visibility to your work. And besides that, building connections always prove to be helpful in any field of work.

  1. Share and let others know what you’re doing

Use your social media pages to announce what you’re working on especially the interesting tidbits of it without giving away much. Best places would promote would be LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook Quora and Google+.

  1. Publish a review

Reviews are considered to be one of the highest qualities of research; hence they are cited very often. Since you must have reviewed research work for your own paper, it will be a good idea to post a review as well.

  1. Cite your colleagues to get cited yourself

If you use your colleagues work as citations in your own work, It will not only provide more dimension to your work but it will likely increase their chances of citing your work as well.

  1. Publish your work in a well-renowned journal

Since a majority of researchers would choose a work that is published in one of the top journals in their field, publishing in one of them will boost your visibility even further as researchers would trust your work more.

How to publish your paper in a journal

As academicians, we strive for high-quality research that will advance science. As we write up our findings, we aim to present our hypothetical approach and applied consequences via our paper. Then we submit our paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Yes, this is the toughest part of the research. The job of writing a scientific research paper is quite competitive; there could be several reasons behind a rejection. Hence it’s important to understand the vital element of publication before journal submission.

The output of such efforts can be maximized by adhering to the following guidelines:

1. Have a specific target journal in mind

When you start writing about your study, it is wise to keep a specific target journal in mind. Search for journals that you think will be suitable for publishing your paper.  After identifying a journal, you must organize your paper as per the journal guidelines to decrease the chances of rejection.

2. Start your paper early in your research phase

You need to start writing from the early stages of your research or doctoral study. A proactive outlook will decrease the chance of rejection. Re-reading is needed in the research arena because it helps identify the most common flaws in the manuscript, which might otherwise be overlooked. It is also advisable to share your manuscripts with colleagues or other researchers to request their feedback, thus avoiding many errors.

3. Organize your paper as per the journal guidelines

After getting feedback from you your co-workers, revise your paper according to the aim and scope of the journals in your target research area. That will improve the chances of acceptance.

4. Develop an impressive title and abstract

The title and abstract are extremely important parts of a manuscript. Basically, the title should encapsulate the theme of the paper. The abstract should be a summary of the article within a specific word count.

5. Take the services of a professional editing firm

It is advisable to have a professional editing firm copy-edit your manuscript. An article submitted to a peer-reviewed journal will be analyzed critically by the editorial board, especially the references, main text, tables, and figures before it is selected for peer review. Running the manuscript through available software might help, but that can never replace the efforts of an expert and experienced editor in your chosen research field.

6. Include a cover letter along with the manuscript

A cover letter outlines the theme of the paper, presents the innovative aspect of the paper, and communicates the significance of the manuscript to the target journal. Therefore, it is mandatory to submit a cover letter along with the manuscript for publication.

7. Report reviewer comments carefully

Editors and editors-in-chief often ask researchers to “revise or resubmit” based on the comments provided by the reviewers. These revisions may necessitate major or minor changes in the manuscript. Therefore, it is important to address the comments received from the reviewers and avoid critical omissions. It is also crucial that you meet the given deadline for submitting the revised paper.

Given the ever-growing number of manuscripts submitted for publication, the procedure of presenting a manuscript in the best possible form and to have it accepted by a journal can be a formidable task because high-impact journals accept less than 10 percent of the articles submitted.

Therefore, the guidelines mentioned here could go a long way toward having your paper accepted and published by an esteemed journal. These recommendations require proper planning and careful implementation. Following the instructions could help researchers and other scholars improve the chances of getting their work published, and that is the key to having a productive and gratifying academic career.