The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals™ (ISMPP) is a non-profit, voluntary professional membership association dedicated to advancing medical publication planning and development, supporting medical publication professionals, and ensuring ethical medical publication practices.

ISMPP promotes high standards for professional ethics and practices, and encourages members to meet such standards. Members should act in a manner that promotes integrity and reflects positively on the individual professional, ISMPP, and the medical publication profession, consistent with accepted ethical and legal principles.

ISMPP has adopted these voluntary ethics principles to serve as a professional resource for medical writers and communicators, publication planners, editors, publishers, and other professions that ISMPP members represent.

I. General Professional Principles

To be professionally responsible, members should:

A. Comply with laws, regulations, policies, and ethical principles governing professional practice and related activities, including applicable rules of government bodies, professional associations and credentialing organizations.

B. Support the Society’s ethics principles and disseminate them to other professionals involved in medical publications.

C. Keep up-to-date in their continuing professional development by regularly attending education programs and making a commitment to lifelong learning.

D. Contribute to the development of the profession by mentoring and training newer professionals, and by sharing information about best practices.

E. Oppose behavior that violates accepted ethical or legal principles.
F. Promote equal opportunity and diversity in professional activities.

II. Professional Services Principles

When offering or providing professional services, members should:

A. Provide accurate and truthful information in all representations of qualifications, experience, competency, and performance of services, including representations related to professional status and/or area(s) of special competence.

B. Offer suitable referrals when unable to provide appropriate services.

C. Ensure that all information about projects and deliverables is complete, truthful, and accurate.

D. Provide quality services in a timely and efficient manner.

III. Specific Professional Conduct Principles

A. Publication Planning Principles

When developing publication plans, members should:

  1. Identify authors for planned publications before writing begins, and ensure that author selection is conducted in accordance with standard accepted guidelines for authorship:
    eg, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors,
    World Association of Medical Editors, Council of Science Editors).  
  2. Ensure that authors take primary responsibility for choosing journals and congresses to which they will submit their publications
  3. Commit to working with study investigators to publish all medically important study results regardless of outcome.
  4. Encourage the timely publication of sponsored clinical study results and other information that may affect healthcare while discouraging publication planning activities that inappropriately advocate for unapproved therapeutic uses.
B. Publication Preparation Principles

When preparing or developing publications (ie, abstracts, posters or manuscripts), members should:

  1. Ensure accuracy, completeness and fair balance and avoid commercial product promotion
  2. Recognize the authors’ responsibility for a publication’s content, including its references.

  3. Identify appropriate trial protocols clearly, if available, when publishing clinical trial results (eg, clinical trial registry number).

  4. Report primary results of a multi-center clinical trial first, and thereafter issue secondary publications from the same trial, when appropriate citing the primary publication.

  5. Identify and report clinical trial results that are inconclusive or inconsistent with the hypothesized outcome.

  6. Never misrepresent or fabricate clinical research and/or clinical trial results.

  7. Prevent duplicate submission of manuscripts, consistent with accepted professional standards.

  8. Apply appropriate standards, guidelines, and position statements of professional organizations including, but not limited to:

    a. Good Publication Practice (GPP) for Communicating Company-sponsored Medical Research, BMJ 2009;339:b4330. Click Here Published 2009. Accessed August 30, 2013
    b. International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) Position Statement: The Role of the Professional Medical Writer. Click Here Published 2007. Accessed August 30, 2013.
    c. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors [ICMJE]). Click Here Updated 2013. Accessed August 30, 2013.
    d. The CONSORT Statement: Revised Recommendations for Improving the Quality of Reports of Parallel-Group Randomized Trials. Updated 2010. Accessed November 23, 2010
    e. The EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) Network. Accessed March 22, 2010.
    f. Principles on Conduct of Clinical Trials. Communication of Clinical Trial Results (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America [PhRMA]). Click Here. Updated 2009. Accessed August 30, 2013.
    g. Joint Position on the Disclosure of Clinical Trial Information via Clinical Trial Registrations and Databases. (PhRMA/IFPMA/EFPIA/JPMA). Click Here Updated 2009. Accessed August 30, 2013.
    h. Joint Position on the Publication of Clinical Trial Results in the Scientific Literature. (PhRMA/IFPMA/EFPIA/JPMA). Click Here Published 2010. Accessed August 30, 2013.
    i. Principles for Responsible Clinical Trial Data Sharing. (PhRMA/EFPIA). Click Here Published 2013. Accessed August 30, 2013
Publication Disclosure Principles

When preparing or developing publications, members should:

  1. Disclose accurately all information about potential conflicts of interest, including compensation, stock ownership, intellectual property considerations or other direct or indirect financial benefits provided to each author, to ensure transparency.
  2. Provide appropriate information about financial contributions or other support relating to manuscript development, including support for medical writing and sources of funding for studies being reported.
  3. Acknowledge and disclose accurately the role of important contributors who do not satisfy accepted authorship criteria to ensure transparency with respect to participatory support for publications.
  4. Oppose guest authorship (ie, having named authors who do not meet authorship criteria), ghost authorship (ie, wherein individuals who meet authorship criteria are not identified or acknowledged) and the practice of ghost writing (ie, wherein the contributions of professional medical writers are not identified or acknowledged).
D. Intellectual Property Protection Principles

When performing professional services, members should:

  1. Recognize, respect, and protect the intellectual property rights and contributions of others, including copyright laws governing how published materials are used and distributed.
  2. Not plagiarize, copy, or use in substantially similar form, materials prepared by others without acknowledging the correct source and identifying the author and/or publisher of such materials.
E. Principles for Managing Conflict of Interest

When performing professional services, members should:

  1. Ensure that when a potential conflict of interest is identified, it is appropriately acknowledged and disclosed.
  2. Ensure that a conflict of interest does not compromise legitimate interests of an employee, employer, client, customer, or contractor, nor influence or interfere with professional judgments.
  3. Never offer or accept inappropriate payments, gifts, or other benefits that could influence professional judgment


Revised: November 2010