Starting or Strengthening a Drug Bulletin - A Practical Manual
(2005; 165 pages) View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentPreface
View the documentHow the manual was produced
View the documentAbout ISDB
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contents1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. Rational use of medicines
Open this folder and view contents3. What are drug bulletins?
Open this folder and view contents4. Defining aims, target and type of bulletin
Open this folder and view contents5. Planning resources
Close this folder6. Planning bulletin production: schedules and timing
View the document6.1 Why is planning necessary?
View the document6.2 Start modestly and grow gradually
View the document6.3 Develop a framework for producing articles
View the document6.4 Flexible planning for each issue
View the document6.5 Allow time for delays in distribution
View the document6.6 Integrate necessary sidelines into your overall planning
View the document6.7 A few principles for planning the production of a bulletin
Open this folder and view contents7. The editorial process
Open this folder and view contents8. Reviewing a new drug: is it a therapeutic advance?
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexe to Chapter 8: Evaluating harm
Open this folder and view contents9. Design and production
Open this folder and view contents10. Dissemination
Open this folder and view contents11. Organizational and legal issues
Open this folder and view contents12. Evaluating quality and usefulness
Open this folder and view contents13. Partnership and collaboration
Open this folder and view contents14. Keeping records and creating a memory
Open this folder and view contentsAppendix: Electronic sources of information

6.4 Flexible planning for each issue

Combine long-term planning of articles with short-term flexibility for each bulletin. A good way to avoid delays and interruptions in publication of the bulletin is to let editors plan to have a few articles on hand without having the production of a new issue constantly in mind. The aim is to build a stock of articles, ideally the equivalent of two or more bulletins, and to separate the planning of each bulletin issue from the production of articles. However, there is a danger with this, in that an article may become out of date if the publication is delayed too long. In that case, a literature search for recent references may be needed.

How long is too long to keep an article on hold? This varies, depending on the topic. In AIDS research, for example, it may be as short as several weeks. In some domains with little research activity it could be more than a year. Bulletins often have policies in place about how long to keep articles on hold or when to carry out an extra literature search to make sure they have missed no important new studies. For example, the French bulletin la revue Prescrire tries to publish all articles within three months of completion, but still after updating references when necessary. The experience of the German bulletin arznei-telegramm is that more articles need to be produced than will be needed. Articles not published in the month they are completed are usually published in the following two months.

With an ongoing stock of articles, the preparation of individual issues becomes easier and more flexible. You may choose to mix longer and shorter articles or more specialised or general topics to make the bulletin more readable. The articles may also be selected to reflect a main focus for each issue, such as misleading promotional campaigns, epidemiological reports, the time of year, international or local debates on treatment strategies or drug policy, etc. Specific articles or alerts can be included when they are in the news. Editorials can also act as position papers on topics of current interest.

Writing an article is only the first step. Do not underestimate the time needed to put together the articles, adapt their presentation and size, design a bulletin issue, and check over the text to verify that no mistakes have been made. A precise timetable is needed to help the printer meet publication dates and to organize distribution.

An easy approach is to develop an annual plan for these steps, to guide everybody involved in the process. Annual planning should take into account bulletin and printers’ staff holiday times and public holidays. Planning varies from bulletin to bulletin according to how it is produced. For example, if the printer does the layout, time must be allowed between layout and printing to let the editor check the printer’s work.

to previous section
to next section
The WHO Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal was designed and is maintained by Human Info NGO. Last updated: December 6, 2017