As you know, medical publications activities are subject to a raft of regulations and guidelines. We have guidance on who can be an author from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), guidance on what we have to include in study reports (SPIRIT) and manuscripts (e.g. CONSORT) from various bodies, amalgamated through the EQUATOR network and of course, the Good Publication Practice guidelines (GPP3) describe best practice for communicating company sponsored research. So why do we need yet more?
It’s important that we have ethical and best practice alignment across the industry, as pharma-sponsored publications are under such heavy scrutiny. But when GPP3 first came out at the end of 2015, a group of medcomms specialists from different agencies, including Caudex’s Director of Global Operations Jackie Marchington, realised that all these guidelines and recommendations still did not address the specific challenges of developing abstracts and presentations for academic conferences – all of which are as much a part of a publication plan as the manuscripts. So, we put our heads together, along with some pharma industry folks, to work out best practice recommendations for these deliverables – the end result was Good Practice for Conference Abstracts and Presentations, or GPCAP (we do like our acronyms!). Now, nearly 4 years later, we are finally seeing our recommendations out in print, in the peer-reviewed journal Research Integrity and Peer Review.
So why did it take so long? Guideline development should always be a consultative process, so we created the first draft as a preprint and posted it for public comment on the preprint server PeerJ. We also invited input from academic conference organizers, as some of the recommendations we propose need the cooperation of these groups. We considered and incorporated all the feedback then submitted the final version to RIPR for peer review. That’s never quick, but we waited an epic 7 months before we received the journal reviewers’ feedback. As an indication of how time passes, one of our authors retired, two changed employers twice and one switched from agency to industry during development!
It’s not unusual in medcomms for agency contributors to work together on initiatives that benefit the entire sector and we’re hoping that these recommendations are adopted as industry standard, as has been the case with GPP.