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Highlights from ISMPP 2018: Preprints, patient involvement in publications and GDPR

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By Mike Zbreski

Similar to most professions, one particular experience that is always rewarding is having the opportunity to attend and participate in professional conferences. Once again, Succinct attended the ISMPP annual meeting to learn about and discuss all of the advancements that the evolving field of medical publications has made over the past year. This year marked the largest ISMPP meeting to date, surpassing 600 attendees and supporting 51 poster presentations. Louise Carrington, Client Partnerships Lead, joined myself and Regina Switzer, Divisional Director, Chicago, in Maryland for 3 days of education and networking. While Louise and Regina staffed our busy booth in the exhibit hall, I spent my time attending lectures, viewing posters and talking with my fellow medical publishers from around the world.

Along with some of the more general themes, such as handling journal rejections, streamlining the publication process and navigating the complexities of global copyright, several new and exciting areas of advancement in our field were discussed.

Hot topics at ISMPP this year included:

  • Is there a place for preprints in publishing clinical data?
  • Patient involvement and lay-person summaries in publications
  • The requirements and impact of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the publication world

Is there a place for preprints in publishing clinical data?

An interesting, yet seemingly debatable topic that is rapidly emerging is the practice of publishing data as preprints before peer review publishing. What started off as an avenue for scientists to make their novel data immediately available to the scientific community, while the publication was undergoing formal peer review, has gained interest among clinical and pharmaceutical researchers. The bioRxiv Preprint Server for Biology was established in 1991 and is hosted by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Laurel Hollow, New York. As it is not uncommon for the peer review publication process to exceed 6 months, bioRxiv allows authors to make their data available immediately upon study completion. In addition, the archive allows readers to comment on hosted articles so that authors can receive feedback from their colleagues. The articles hosted on bioRxiv are not peer reviewed or edited, but are screened for ethical considerations and general applicability. In addition, all hosted articles are linked with the final peer reviewed article upon publication. While most medical journals support preprints and do not consider them to be “previously published”, this practice is not yet widely accepted, so it is best practice to consult the target journal before submitting or hosting preprints. 

Patient involvement and lay-person summaries in publications

With the growing relevance of real-world data and the “patient experience” in clinical outcomes, involvement of the patient in medical publications is gaining attention. Because the patient is the only source that can provide true insight on the impact of disease and the benefit of treatment, some researchers have expressed interest in involving the patient in publication development. In particular, patient experience is relevant to key takeaways and discussion points such as treatment limitations, unmet needs and the overall impact of treatment on patient-reported outcomes and quality of life. In line with this, there is also growing interest in providing lay-person summaries as part of published journal articles. The goal of providing lay-person summaries as part of the final published article is to expand the readership of scientific data to patients and their family members. 

The requirements and impact of GDPR in the publication world

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was a particularly relevant and impactful topic because it goes into effect on 25 May 2018. As medical publishers, we work with personal data on a daily basis during our collaboration with medical/scientific professionals, data analysts and company clients. A Monday afternoon session provided an overview of the GDPR, including the types of personal data, handlers of personal data and, most importantly, how to maintain GDPR compliance and protect personal data. This session reiterated the importance of implementing and maintaining stringent processes to ensure that personal data are managed appropriately.  

We look forward to attending again in 2019 – find us there or get in contact to see how we can support your publication planning and development. 

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