Industry Insights MedComms

Industry Insights: MedComms 13 November

Industry Insights: MedComms 13 November

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Here we highlight three topics in publishing currently sparking discussions within the industry. We explore issues related to non-native English speakers in science, delve into the debate of using AI or knowledge experts in medical writing, and discuss the impact altmetrics (Alternative Metrics) might have on addressing the gender bias that disadvantages women in STEM.

There is a need for more linguistic inclusive policies in academic publishing. With English being the prevalent language of science, non-native English speakers are disadvantaged when it comes to communicating and conducting scientific activities. A study involving 908 researchers revealed that non-native English speakers, particularly those in the early stages of their careers, invest more time and energy in various scientific tasks. These include reading and writing papers, creating presentations in English, and sharing research in multiple languages. Additionally, non-native English speakers face a higher likelihood of journal paper rejection because of their English writing skills, as opposed to those who are native English speakers. An article in Trends in Ecology & Evolutionsuggests that centralising volunteering for English proofreading and linguistic services on major journal preprint platforms may address some inequalities in publishing opportunities. However, addressing the language barrier challenges in science will involve giving careful thought to the requirements of various linguistic groups, establishing support networks, and promoting increased global collaboration.

The publishing industry is realising that AI will play a pivotal role in medical writing, streamlining processes like literature reviews and data analysis. However, knowledge workers suggest that the human touch provided by medical writers and copywriters remains irreplaceable. These professionals will continue to bring nuanced understanding, ensuring accurate and contextually-relevant communication for diverse audiences, from patients to clinicians. Medical writers are able to navigate complex medical jargon, tailor content to specific demographics, and maintain a critical eye for ethical considerations. While AI enhances efficiency, human expertise adds indispensable qualities like empathy, creativity, and a deep understanding of the socio-cultural aspects of healthcare. AI is here to stay! Therefore, it is advised that the publishing industry work alongside AI to amplify the overall value of medical writing and bridge the gap between complex research and accessible, impactful communication.

There is mounting evidence that a gender bias in academia favours men. This contributes to the stark under-representation of female academics in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) research. Altmetrics (Alternative Metrics), is a novel approach to assess scholarly impact and may address this gender bias in academic performance evaluation. Altmetrics is assessed using an Altmetric Attention Score (AAS), and has been adopted by several journals. By incorporating diverse indicators such as social media mentions, downloads, and online engagement, altmetrics provide a more comprehensive view of a researcher’s influence. This method might benefit a significant number of women whose research excels in community engagement or interdisciplinary collaborations. It is important to note  that altmetrics on its own does not capture the full impact of a research paper. The recommended use is to complement traditional citation metrics, as opposed to replacing them. Embracing altmetrics acknowledges diverse scholarly outputs, recognises the multifaceted nature of academic success, and ultimately contributes to a more equitable academic landscape.

Elion Medical Communications