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
Open this folder and view contents6. Planning bulletin production: schedules and timing
Close this folder7. The editorial process
View the document7.1 Outline of the editorial process
Open this folder and view contents7.2 Editing a drug bulletin
Close this folder7.3 Writing bulletin articles
View the document7.3.1 Finding and motivating authors
View the document7.3.2 Rewarding authors
View the document7.3.3 Writing an article
View the document7.3.4 Outlining the topic
View the document7.3.5 Searching for documentation
View the document7.3.6 The first draft
View the document7.3.7 Discuss the draft with an editor
Open this folder and view contents7.4 Reviewing the article
View the document7.5. Rewriting the article
View the document7.6 Final checks
Open this folder and view contents7.7 Follow-up after publication
View the document7.8 References
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

7.3.1 Finding and motivating authors

The ideal author, is a ‘rare bird’, who:

• is available;
• is a clear and rigorous thinker;
• is knowledgeable about the topic;
• can analyse data critically;
• writes clearly and concisely;
• knows and understands the audience;
• is willing to change a text after it has been reviewed;
• has time to write articles and respond to editorial queries.

All of these qualities rarely exist in one person. Collective work is unavoidable even if the team is small. Both editors and external reviewers can help to improve an author’s work.

Many drug bulletins have found it difficult to identify external authors, for a variety of reasons. Specialists in a field may be out of touch with the everyday work of a clinician. They may not be able to set aside enough time to produce a good quality article. Some may have the title of ‘expert’ or ‘specialist’ but have not taken the time to update their knowledge. Others do not bother to thoroughly read and analyse the literature, even when the bulletin provides the references. They do not necessarily have experience in systematic appraisal of the evidence from clinical trials. An expert may not be used to accepting the criticisms of a rigorous review board. Finally, many have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which may be using them as ‘opinion leaders’.

It is better to select a few reliable external authors than many who will produce inadequate articles generating difficult re-editing and possible conflicts. Many editors of ISDB bulletins prefer to write draft articles themselves in-house. Instead of asking external specialists to write the articles, they ask them to act as reviewers. Once an author who is skilled and available has been chosen, it is important to provide support and direction, especially if you would like the author to finish the article and to write for the bulletin again.

• When you commission the article provide clear and concise instructions for authors. Simple general guidelines can be found in the Healthlink Worldwide publication “How to produce a newsletter”.5 But specific instructions adapted to your bulletin will be even more useful.

• Provide the author with complete documentation for the article, explaining in detail how and when the literature searches were carried out, and what other strategies were used to search for extra references. It can be risky to leave an author to search for references as s/he may be too confident in their own knowledge and less thorough in seeking other sources.

• Junior authors should be helped by support from a more experienced editor when needed.

• When an article has been accepted and published, the authors should receive acknowledgement, and payment or other rewards (see below).

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