Why not use a novel publishing platform?

Tim Koder

At the guided poster tour as part of the Digital Technology session at ISMPP yesterday, our poster attracted great attention, with over 50 pharma publications leaders and medical writing professionals joining the conversation. Most attendees were broadly familiar with the concepts of open access, preprints and post-publication peer review, and were excited by the prospect of improving the publication process. They also asked questions that highlighted real barriers to the uptake of the innovative platforms outlined in the poster. Similar discussions took place at the excellent round-table sessions on Digital and Enhanced Media Options.

The questions raised so far are as follows.

  • Readership: what are the reach, credibility and visibility of these platforms for traditional pharma research audiences?
  • Author education: how can we encourage external experts not to focus on impact factor as a key driver for choice of journal?
  • Choice of platform: the information about digital publishing models on the poster is a great start; could we use this as the basis for a decision tree to recommend platforms that address the needs of a particular manuscript?
  • Open access and enhanced material such as video summaries: how can we make use of these options without being open to accusations of promoting to patients and disseminating off-label information?
  • Post-publication peer review: does it offer the same safeguards as traditional peer review and, if so, can it gain acceptance? All of the pharma delegates who participated in the discussion said that they need peer review before publication, and that it is against regulations and guidance to do otherwise.
  • Patient authors: are they allowed by the newer publishing platforms?
  • Preprints: do they prevent publication in traditional journals? Few journals have explicit preprint policies (New England Journal of Medicine and the Cell Press family of journals being notable exceptions), which suggests that preprints should not present a barrier to publication. However, many people are worried that an unstated bias is still held by journals against preprinted articles.

These questions highlight a number of challenges to the Open Pharma project and the publications community that we can, and will, address through engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, research and effective communications. Let us know what you think about these issues, and any other concerns that may be deterring you from changing your publication model, and we hope to help you address them.

By Tim Koder