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A guide for principled publishing

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By: Cynthia Saver, MS, RN

Nurse researchers receive much less funding from commercial companies than their physician colleagues, but those who do should be aware of a recent update on best publication practices for sponsored research. The guidelines also provide guidance for those whose research hasn’t been sponsored by a company but want to engage in ethical publishing.

Guidelines basics

The recommendations in “Good publication practice (GPP) guidelines for company-sponsored biomedical research: 2022 update,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, address topics such as ethics, transparency, and planning, development, and review of manuscripts. The guidelines apply to a range of publication outlets, including peer-reviewed articles, posters, and plain-language summaries. (The guidelines were first published in 2003, with updates in 2009 and 2015.)

Work on the update was spearheaded by an 11-member steering committee chosen by International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP); members represented different geographic regions and professional specialties. The committee reviewed suggestions for revisions proposed by subgroups and made final decisions. In addition, two review panels provided feedback on the revised guidelines, and those recommendations were considered as well.

The guidelines are based on guidance from many well-respected organizations:

  • American Medical Writers Association
  • Council of Science Editors
  • Committee on Publication Ethics
  • European Association of Science Editors
  • European Medical Writers Association
  • International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
  • ISMPP
  • Medical Publishing Insights and Practices
  • World Association of Medical Editors.

They also draw on guidelines collected by the EQUATOR Network, and sponsor-led initiatives such as those of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

In essence, the authors note that the GPP guidance “aims to collect and interpret generally accepted principles.”

 Ethical and planning principles

One of the most powerful parts of the GPP guidelines is its focus on ethical principles. Topics include general ethics and good publication practice as well as guidance related to

  • protecting research and data integrity
  • promoting transparency
  • supporting inclusivity
  • authorship, contributorship, and accountability.

One interesting principle under inclusivity is “Patients and patient advocates may be included in publication planning and development, including as authors or contributors to publications, as appropriate to the topic or therapeutic area.” We frequently fail to think about how we can involve the very people we care for in the dissemination of work that’s so important to them.

The GPP guidelines also have a section called “practical planning principles,” which includes valuable information on how publication working groups can better work together. This content, as is the case with much of the content in the guidelines, is applicable to any joint publication effort, not just company-sponsored ones. For example, one recommendation is to put member responsibilities in writing. This seems like common sense, but I’ve seen the problems that can arise when roles aren’t clearly delineated at the start of the project. There also should be methods for resolving disagreements, and these too should be communicated to the team before the project begins.

Get the guidelines

You can access the GPP guidelines for free at acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M22-1460#t1-M221460. I encourage you to read them and incorporate them into your writing projects.

Reference

DeTora LM, Toroser D, Sykes, et al. Good publication practice (GPP) guidelines for company-sponsored biomedical research: 2022 update. Ann Intern Med. 2022;175(9):1298-1304. doi:10.7326/M22-1460


Hi, I’m Cynthia Saver, MS, RN, president of CLS Development, Inc., which provides writing and editing services, and editor of Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses, 4th ed. I’m also past editorial director for American Nurse Journal.

I’ve been a full-time professional nurse writer and editor for many years, and that doesn’t count the writing I did as I fulfilled my nursing roles in clinical, research, education, and management. My passion is helping nurses share their expertise through the written word, including, but not limited to, publication. Writing can be scary and intimidating. I hope to make it less so and to help you develop your writing skills the same way you’ve developed your nursing skills.

Whether you’re considering your first or your 50th publication, want to contribute to your organization’s newsletter, or crave to be a better communicator online and in print, I hope you’ll find what I write helpful. The nurse publishing colleagues I’ve learned from over the years (many of whom are contributors to my book) may not be listed by name, but I’m grateful for their willingness to share. In that spirit, I’m looking forward to sharing with you! If you have feedback, feel free to email me at csaver57@gmail.com.

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