The advisory board plays an essential role, even if it has few members, providing guidance to the editorial team. For example, it can help the editorial team to identify articles that do not adequately meet their objectives, lack of independence, or useful topics that have not been covered. The advisory board can also help the editorial team to discover new information sources and opportunities for collaboration, and may assist in promoting the bulletin. It is very helpful to have an advisory board consisting of members with backgrounds in different therapeutic areas.
Experienced members of other bulletins’ teams can also play this role. The advisory board may include non-health professionals and patients, as well as professionals who differ in orientation from the editorial team. For example, it is helpful for university-oriented editors to have clinically-oriented advisers, for hospital-based editors to have community-based advisers, for public sector editors to have private practice advisers, and vice-versa. The expertise of the members of the advisory board helps to broaden and complement the expertise of members of the editorial team.
Should ‘opinion leaders’ and ‘scientific experts’ be included in the advisory board? It may be useful to include them because of the help they can provide, especially if they are available and not too far removed from everyday practice, or because their involvement helps to extend the bulletin’s sphere of influence. However, if they have conflicts of interest or a clear lack of independence, no title or supposed expertise justifies involving them in the advisory board.
Neither the members of the editorial team nor the advisory board members should be appointed for life. Regular evaluation is necessary to maintain and improve the bulletin’s quality. Fixed-term contracts, lasting, say two - three years, may therefore be useful.