The official newsletter of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals

Welcome to this issue of the map!  


Volume 3, Issue 1
In this issue:

altISMPP Announcements

altScientific Platforms 101: A Foundation for Consistent Medical Communications

altTranscending the Paper Poster: Going Beyond Two Dimensions

altISMPP Committee Spotlight: Annual Meeting Program Committee

altRoundtable and Abstract Committees Spotlight

altWhat Would You Do? Medical Publication Scenarios

Al Weigel, ISMPP President/COOAs ISMPP embarks on its 11th year as a non-profit professional Society, we are proud to share our progress over the past year and reaffirm our commitment to our mission and vision. As always, these advances are in great part due to your support and continued involvement in the various committees that help define ISMPP.

While there are countless initiatives and activities that are ongoing within the Society, I am limited to focusing on a few. Hopefully these will provide insight into some of the key strategic and tactical issues that both staff and volunteers are working on as ISMPP continues to grow and thrive.

Board of Trustees (BOT) Strategic Work Group

A Strategic Work Group has been established, consisting of individuals representing industry, agency and editors and/or publishers; regional representation; and current/past representation on the BOT. 

The purpose of this group is to establish a formal mechanism to continue the Society’s long-term (5 -10 year) strategic process discussions initiated in 2015. It will conduct further analyses and research on the various options previously discussed, in addition to developing and presenting strategic recommendations to the BOT. The first meeting will be held in August 2016. 

Organizational Outreach

Significant progress has been made over the past year in our efforts to find ways to increase collaboration with various professional organizations. Some key highlights include:

  • European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) presentation at this year’s ISMPP Annual Meeting, and presentation and roundtable at this year’s European Meeting of ISMPP
  • European Medicines Agency (EMA) presentation and roundtable at the 2016 European Meeting of ISMPP
  • Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research (EQUATOR) Network presentation at the 2016 European Meeting of ISMPP
  • European Association of Science Editors (EASE) annual conference presentation by ISMPP (June 2016)
  • Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME) annual conference presentation by ISMPP (August 2016)
  • The International Publication Planning Association (TIPPA), Drug Information Association (DIA), CBI, and Q1 presentations
  • Australasian Medical Writers Association conference presentation on GPP3 (August 2016)
  • Endorsement of GPP3 by the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), Japan Medical and Scientific Communicators Association (JMCA), and EASE

We will continue to seek new opportunities to work together on issues of high importance to our profession and which we can make a significant impact.

Asia Pacific

As we have become aware over the past several years, it is critical that we need to increasingly share our best practices and invest in the global environment.  While no single individual, government, or company can adequately address the multitude of issues, ISMPP continues to do its part through the following activities:

  • A 2017 Asia Pacific Meeting of ISMPP will be held on September 5, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan
  • Translation of GPP3 into Chinese and Japanese
  • 2016 “Country Champion” initiatives in China, Japan, India, and Singapore
  • Quarterly ISMPP U sessions targeted to the Asia Pacific region

Many thanks to our valued members in Asia Pacific who are working tirelessly to ensure these meetings and activities are held to the highest standard!

In closing, I want to let you know that despite our growth and accomplishments over the past 11 years, we’ve only started down the path of realizing our full potential and purpose as a Society. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all you do as a Volunteer, Exhibitor or Corporate Sponsor to help make our Society successful.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have suggestions for improvement to the map or if you would like to suggest any topics for inclusion in future issues. You can reach me at

With very best wishes,
Al Weigel, ISMPP President and CEO

ISMPP Announcements

Upcoming ISMPP U's

  • September 14: Patient Reported Outcomes and Patient Engagement
  • October 26: Reproducibility
  • November 30: Peer Review

Asia Pacific ISMPP U

  • October 3 (US), October 4 (APAC): Encores and Translations

altAttention CMPPs!
If you received your CMPP certification in 2011, ACT NOW to keep it effective. Find out how at

Next ISMPP CMPPTM Exam Seating:  September 1-30, 2016
ISMPP has received over 150 applications from candidates for the September exam window. Click here to learn more about the CMPP exam.

Mark Your Calendars for Upcoming Conferences!

New ISMPP Resources Build Member Knowledge

  • ISMPP Publications Primer offers a comprehensive single-source overview of medical publications and publication planning.
  • ISMPP Glossary includes over 300 terms, and provides a single resource of common terms, groups, and activities in the medical publications landscape.

GPP3 Now Available in Chinese Language
GPP3 has been translated into the Chinese language, and expands the reach of GPP3 to other regions of the world. Click here to view the translation. A Japanese translation is in process.

Society Staff Update
Anna Geraci recently joined the ISMPP staff as its Director of Communications, focusing on external collaborations and partnerships, membership, and external communications and marketing. Click here to learn more.

Thank You to Our Newest Corporate Sponsors!

  • ISMPP is pleased to announce the following new Corporate Sponsors for 2016: Roche (Platinum); Eli Lilly and Company (Gold); MedSci Healthcare (Silver); and Prime Medical Group (Silver). The complete list of ISMPP Corporate Sponsors can be found at
  • Click here for information about the ISMPP Corporate Sponsorship Program.

Visit Our LinkedIn Page and Follow Us on Twitter!
Share your thoughts and posts on ISMPP's LinkedIn and Twitter pages, and help enhance our social media presence.

Not a Member? Join ISMPP Today!
Click here to learn more about the benefits of becoming an ISMPP member, and find out how to join today!

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altScientific Platforms 101:
A Foundation for Consistent Medical Communications

Todd Parker, PhD, CMPPTM, VP, Scientific Services; Angie Miller, CMPPTM, Senior VP; Steve Palmisano, CMPPTM, Senior VP, Managing Director; MedThink SciCom

“Our team is having trouble prioritizing our medical communication activities.”
“Across our team, we cannot agree on core communication concepts.”
“Our publication agency performed a lexicon analysis of our publications and found significant inconsistencies with how we described the mechanism of our product.”

Have you heard someone say these things within your company? Many companies face the challenges of ensuring that each product has a well-grounded scientific story that is consistently used by various teams. That is part of the reason why development of a scientific platform is such a critical undertaking—it facilitates communication of a single vision across all communication channels and stakeholders.

The old proverb “measure twice, cut once” highlights the importance of thorough and thoughtful planning before initiation of a scientific platform or development of downstream communication plans. A scientific platform involves a rigorous approach to development of the core story (grounded in the scientific literature) for a product. This involves identifying core concepts that address the disease state, clinical need, and product-related communications. The process for development of a scientific platform may seem daunting at times; however, once it is broken out into discrete steps, it could be not only straightforward but also one of the most valuable and rewarding initiatives.

The first step in the development of a scientific platform is to ensure team alignment on objectives, uses, and format for delivery. Through the initial stages, teams should set clear goals, agree to a review process, and secure team agreement on the path to platform development. While scientific platforms may be formulated in various ways, the following graphic (Figure 1) is an example of what the structure may begin to look like.


Figure 1. Potential structure of a scientific platform with 5 sections (or pillars). Underneath each pillar would be detailed scientific statements supported by appropriate references.

The next step is an immersive review of the data and literature, and potential discussions with key experts, which may occur by phone interviews or use of virtual collaboration tools. Often, the immersion phase of a scientific platform includes a review of recent literature analyses, advisory board executive summaries, formal market research, publication plans, and more.

Development of core concepts is the next step in the process. A multidisciplinary workshop designed to gain consensus on core concepts generally follows and is recommended because this forum promotes individual engagement and facilitates team alignment. It is also important to ensure that all appropriate stakeholder departments are represented and are involved contributors to the process (Figure 2). Publication professionals are frequently called upon to provide significant support during, if not leadership of, scientific platform development, in part because of their strong familiarity with the literature and knowledge of supportive data. After team alignment on core concepts has been reached, other elements can be developed as needed, including scientific communication points with supporting references and the desired lexicon for key terms and descriptions.


Figure 2. Potential departments that may be involved in development of a scientific platform.
Note: Companies may or may not permit Commercial representatives to be involved in the development of a scientific platform. Each company should check with its Legal representative.

Although many companies initiate development of a scientific platform during phase 2 of product development, any product with directional data can benefit from having a scientific platform (Figure 3). However, the process does not stop once the scientific platform is first completed. It is a living document that should be revisited and updated when events occur that affect the landscape (eg, data milestones, competitor data/activities, other medical advances, changes in research program).


Figure 3. Historical data depicting the phases of product development during which scientific platforms have been initiated by MedThink SciCom.

Ongoing monitoring is necessary to ensure uptake and correct usage of the scientific platform by the extended team. This can be the most critical step and is often overlooked. It is the responsibility of the scientific platform lead (eg, medical communications or publications lead) to not only ensure that the platform is accurate and up-to-date, but also to ensure that there is consistency in its implementation.

In summary, there is a systematic, well-vetted process for developing scientific platforms (Figure 4) that builds a foundation for establishing consistency in medical communications associated with a product. The value of the scientific platform will quickly be realized through team alignment and improvements in efficiency, as well as through the structure and direction it provides in establishing long-term scientific communication goals. Scientific platform development is a team effort and responsibility, and one in which the publication professional often plays an instrumental role.


Figure 4. Primary phases and activities associated with a scientific platform.


Editorial assistance: Chris Lawrence, PhD, ELS, Senior Director, Editorial Services, MedThink SciCom

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altTranscending the Paper Poster: Going Beyond Two Dimensions
Lana Vegman, PharmD, Envision Pharma Group

Strictly defined, a poster is a paper print designed for display on a wall or vertical surface.1,2 Posters can include visual images, text, or both. The printed poster dates back to the 1840s, following the advent of color lithography, which the printing industry refined and ultimately automated to make mass production possible.2

Over time, the media for these creative visual pieces has evolved from paper, cardboard, photographs, laminated paper, and cloth, to electronic posters (e-Posters), all in an effort to increase reach and bring attention to the information being conveyed. A successful poster captures the viewer’s attention, and communicates the key points clearly and succinctly.

Medical conferences generally include sessions for scientists to display the results of their research in a poster format. These research posters are a good way of presenting information to reach a large audience, particularly when they are made available in an electronic format after the meeting to individuals who did not attend the congress.

At a congress, poster presentations are less coveted than oral presentations by researchers because posters are less prestigious and generally have more limited impact and reach.3 However, posters play a critical role in medical conferences because they are more numerous than oral presentations, and they provide an opportunity to display not only completed research and novel data that might impact clinical decision-making, but also preliminary findings and ongoing research that provides the larger scientific community with the latest developments in their field.

While posters at congresses certainly provide value, there are areas that can be, and are being, improved upon. A study published in 2009 demonstrated that among 142 posters reviewed at a national meeting, 33% were cluttered or sloppy, 22% had fonts that were too small to be easily read, and 38% had research objectives that could not be located in a one-minute review.4

Recent Trends

Recent trends have shown a shift away from traditional paper-based posters to e-Posters, which were introduced and have grown in popularity in the past five years at medical congresses. An e-Poster utilizes a large monitor and computer to display the poster, and may allow for some multimedia content. While it provides an opportunity to more effectively convey the information and enhance visualization and appeal, it also requires both computer-savvy presenters and viewers to be able to make the most of the content. Additionally, the graphics in an e-Poster become more critical components of the presentation, and these must be appropriately designed to ensure maximal functionality and ease of use; issues with these elements may deter viewers from being able to review the entire e-Poster content, thus missing critical information.

Around the early 2010s, quick response (QR) codes were introduced as a novel way to extend the reach of printed poster presentations beyond the congress. Anyone who has walked through a crowded congress hall full of posters, but with limited time, immediately recognized the impact of quickly scanning QR codes to capture electronic versions of the posters for reading in detail later, and spending more time interacting with presenters. An added advantage of QR codes is that they eliminate the need for printed handouts, which can be burdensome to organize and store, or all too quickly become trash.

Augmented Reality

As the poster has evolved, one unresolved question remains at the forefront – how does one combine engaging graphical elements with explanatory text, while still providing the necessary details without any clutter? One solution may be Augmented Reality. While this concept has been used in cinema for some time, augmented reality more recently has extended its reach to scientific conferences.  

Augmented reality is a way to add digital content, such as videos, additional graphics, text, tables, figures, and other 3D experience to the traditional paper poster (Figure 1). This is done through use of various apps that are launched using a particular launch point on the poster through a smart device (eg, phone, iPAD). The launch point is treated as a “hot spot” that transforms sections of the poster from its static form to provide user access to information beyond what is visible on the printed poster itself. Augmented reality provides an opportunity to add more depth to and interaction with a poster, without disrupting conveyance of the main points.

 Figure 1: Evolution of a poster – use of Augmented Reality 5

Presenting authors are generally required to stand by their poster for one to two hours, sometimes longer, to provide an overview of the findings and address questions. Often, they are asked the same question repeatedly by different viewers because space limitations on the printed poster did not allow inclusion of enough detail. Adding an icon to a critical figure, table, or piece of text can give the author the ability to provide information that is not physically printed on a poster that will enhance understanding of the content, stimulate discussions, and preempt questions.

Augmented reality also allows the attendee to interact with the poster, even when the presenting author is not available. And, if the printed poster also includes QR codes, attendees can capture electronic versions of the poster, along with the additional augmented reality content, as a take away.

While there are several benefits to exploring this new technology, when considering augmented reality, additional timing and cost for development of the interactive components and graphical elements need to be carefully weighed. Depending on the level and complexity of the animation and graphics, an additional 2-3 weeks should be planned to allow sufficient time for development and quality check of the added components and final poster. While the costs for development vary, an assessment of the complexity and number of augmented reality “hot spots” desired in a given poster can help guide the additional cost required.

Although platform presentations are widely considered more prestigious, poster presentations can offer a better opportunity for attendees to engage with their colleagues to more fully assimilate the newest advancements in their area. From its start in the 1840s as a simple paper image to the present, where use of technology makes it possible to create additional interest and provide more depth and dimension, the scientific poster has had the same goals of conveying the latest research findings, stimulating further research, and for key findings, impacting clinical decision-making. The only difference being in how the information is served up and taken away.

 All this makes you wonder, what will tomorrow bring?

Disclosure: Editorial support for this article was provided by Alison Gagnon, PhD, of Envision Pharma Group 


  1. Gosling, Peter. (1999). Scientist's Guide to Poster Presentations. New York: Kluwer.
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  Available at Accessed on January 8, 2016.
  3. Hess GR, Tosney KW, Liegel LH. Creating effective poster presentations: AMEE guide no. 40. Med Teach 2009;31:319-21
  4. Swales, J.M., & Feak, C. (2000). English in Today’s Research World: A Writer’s Guide. Michigan: Michigan University Press.
  5. Figure courtesy of Envision Pharma Group.  All rights reserved

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ISMPP Committee Spotlight:
Annual Meeting Program Committee

ISMPP’s Annual Meeting Program Committee is tasked with the development and implementation of ISMPP’s Annual Meetings. This year’s Annual Meeting, Medical Publications in a Data-Rich World: Enhancing Quality and Transparency, highlighted the increasing transparency being demanded by patients, investors, and clinical colleagues, as well as how to ensure quality of data and reporting in all scientific communications in a fast-paced, multi-channel environment.

An 18-member Committee developed content for the 12th Annual Meeting of ISMPP, led by: 

  • Chair: Alice Choi, PhD, ISMPP CMPP™, Chair, ISMPP BOT (2014 – 2015); Global Head, Complete Medical Communications

  • Vice-Chair: Juli Clark, PharmD, Executive Director, Global Medical Writing Scientific Affairs, Amgen, Inc.

  • Vice-Chair: Aruna Seth, PhD, ISMPP CMPP™, Scientific Strategy Lead, Envision Pharma Group

More than ever, this year’s meeting content was driven by member input,with the inclusion of several different activities: a Favorite ISMPP U parallel session, Member Proposal parallel sessions, and an increased number of oral presentations. Guided Poster Tours were also introduced and aimed to maximize attendee exposure to member research. One session of particular note was a late-breaking program addition focused on the ICMJE data sharing proposal, which featured Christine Laine, MD, MPH, FACP, Editor-in-Chief, Annals of Internal Medicine, and Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians.

Work on the Annual Meeting begins almost a full year prior, and members meet on a weekly basis to develop a meeting agenda that meets the needs of ISMPP members. Each Program Committee member develops a session, and many also volunteer additional time to serve on the Abstract and Roundtable Committees.

As the Society has grown both geographically and with respect to the expertise of its members, the Annual Meeting has become more layered so that individuals can tailor their learning experience to sessions that best fit their needs. The 12th Annual Meeting of ISMPP featured:

  • 24 Parallel Sessions (16 unique topics)

  • 23 Roundtable Topics (6 new topics)

  • 31 Posters

  • 3 Guided Poster Tours

  • 3 Keynote Speakers

  • 10 General Sessions

Annual Meeting presentations that ISMPP received permission to post are available to members and are archived on the website. Following the meeting, a 12th Annual Meeting Highlights ISMPP U was presented that provided an overview of key themes. In addition, authors from the winning posters presented their research. This ISMPP U is available in the Member Center Archives on the ISMPP website.

The Annual Meeting Program Committee is always seeking input from members on content and speakers. Suggestions can be emailed to ismpp@ismpp.orgIf you are interested in serving on next year’s Program Committee, please sign up during the 2017 Volunteer Drive.

Thank you to the dedicated ISMPP members who have contributed to past Annual Meetings. Attendance continues to grow each year, and we look forward to a successful 13th Annual Meeting of ISMPP. Please mark your calendars for May 1-3, 2017, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, USA. We look forward to seeing you there!


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altRoundtable and Abstract Committees Spotlight
Annual Meeting Program Committee 

In lieu of the traditional Committee Member spotlight article, the Roundtable and Abstract Committees from the 12th Annual Meeting Program Committee are being highlighted for their contributions to ISMPP.

Roundtable Committee

Roundtable sessions provide a professional forum for attendees to exchange ideas, experiences, and information with their colleagues and peers around pre-selected topics identified by the ISMPP membership as key areas of interest to the medical publication community. In recent years, select roundtable topics have qualified for ISMPP CMPP™ credit.

Roundtables are consistently ranked as one of the most popular offerings at the Annual Meetings. Annual Meeting Program Committee members who served on the Roundtable Committee were Erin Sternberg, Lead (Bristol-Myers Squibb); Barbara Rowe (AstraZeneca); Paula Farmer (MedThink); Donna Simcoe (Simcoe Consultants, Inc.); and Terry Materese (Elsevier). They worked to develop 23 roundtable topics across the three days, six of which were new, including:

  • Copyrights

  • Accelerated Trials Challenges

  • Patients and Publications – Current Topics and Trends in an Age of Transparency

  • Working with Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners as Authors

  • Patient Lay Summaries

  • Real World Evidence

ISMPP extends a special thank you to the Roundtable Committee members in selecting topics, recruiting faculty, and onsite support. Additionally, we would like to thank the Roundtable moderators who volunteered their time to lead individual topic discussions. ISMPP members are encouraged to submit topics of interest for future roundtables by completing the roundtable survey circulated each November.

Abstract Committee

Some of ISMPP’s richest Annual Meeting content is from member research. A dedicated team of five Program Committee members constituted this year’s Abstract Committee - Jim Gurr, Chair (formerly MedImmune, currently at Bristol-Myers Squibb); Sharon Suntag (Quintiles); Courtney Leo (Pfizer); Bhakti Kshatriya (formerly Novartis, currently at Publication Practice CounselTM); and Anna Georgieva (Excerpta Medica).

Following a detailed submission review process, four abstracts were invited as oral presentations, and 32 were invited as posters, including five encore posters from the 2016 European Meeting of ISMPP. The Abstract Committee reviewed each poster in advance of the meeting, as well as onsite, to determine winners in the following categories: Best Practice, Best Original Research, and Best in Visual Communication. Poster winners were invited to present their research at the 12th Annual Meeting Highlights ISMPP U, mentioned in the ISMPP Committee Spotlight article above.

To further highlight the value of research in the medical publications space, the Program Committee introduced a new meeting feature, Guided Poster Tours, centered on themes determined by the focus of the submitted research. The tours allowed for a more in-depth discussion and focus on select posters. Nine posters in total were featured throughout three separate tours, led by a member of the Abstract Committee. This year’s Guided Poster Tour themes were:

  • Quality & Transparency

  • Metrics & Measurements

  • Professional Issues & Industry Trends

The Abstract Committee took on the challenge of both the content and logistical management of the Guided Poster Tours. Hours of work were involved to develop this new meeting feature, in addition to reviewing all of the abstract submissions. ISMPP would like to extend a sincere thank you to this group of individuals for their time and dedication to ISMPP. The Guided Poster Tours were extremely well-received, and plans are to expand on this feature at next year’s Annual Meeting.


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altNEW: What Would You Do?
Kristen McGrory, ELS, ISMPP CMPPTM, Clinical Publications Associate, AstraZeneca

As publications professionals, we have all encountered situations that the available guidelines do not completely cover, where the best path forward is unclear. Have you ever wished you could consult the ISMPP membership for advice? Here’s your opportunity! What Would You Do is a new section of the map dedicated to this purpose. In each issue, we will present a scenario or two to ponder, and invite readers to weigh in on the dilemma posed. Potential solutions will be included in a later issue.

Scenario One: Lead Author Dilemma

You have just joined a new team as a Publications Manager. The team would like your advice on how to handle a situation that has arisen with the authors of a manuscript under development. The lead author was key in acquiring data for the study and was actively engaged in the initial discussions that shaped the outline for the paper. He provided some critical feedback on the first draft, but was slow to send his feedback, which resulted in delays to the timeline for submission. The manuscript is now at second draft, and the lead author has had the draft for more than 2 months, despite exhaustive attempts to contact him through multiple channels (via co-authors, field medical staff, etc.). Several of his co-authors have indicated that they want to remove the lead author as an author on the manuscript because of the delays. Another co-author has suggested “demoting” the lead author to another position. Among the authors, the lead author was most involved with acquisition of the data, but some of the other authors have contributed equally to the design of the study, and direction and revisions of the paper. The lead author has said he wishes to remain as lead author, but has not indicated whether he will be more responsive to deadlines going forward.

What would you do? Is there any additional information you would seek before advising the team? What would be your recommended course of action?

Scenario Two: Additional Author Request

Now that you have advised your team on how to handle the situation with the delayed manuscript, you turn your attention to your inbox. You’re pleased to see that an author of an abstract at final draft has sent her final comments on it, as the submission deadline is just days away, but she has also included a request to add one of her colleagues as an author to the abstract. The abstract reports secondary outcomes from a primary study. The colleague is a statistician who has conducted some of the secondary analyses that will be included in the abstract, and the author indicates the colleague had reviewed earlier drafts with her. The statistician who conducted the primary analyses and other secondary analyses is already included as an author.

What would you do? How would you reply to the author’s request?

Please submit responses to and your answer may be included in the next issue.

Do you have a situation you would like to pose for input? Submit your scenario to and it could be featured in an upcoming issue. 

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