Medical Writing Medical Education Medical Communications

Volume 25, Issue 4 - Medical Education

Medical Communications


Most medical writers cut their teeth on manuscripts, and these documents are often mistakenly believed to be ‘easy’ to write. However, the truth is that with all documents, they are easy to write badly but require skill and knowledge to write well. A quick scan of any journal will quickly (and depressingly!) reveal the sheer number of poor quality manuscripts in circulation.

Producing a high quality manuscript from a clinical study report can be even more challenging. Not only do writers have to deal with the report itself, which may be of “less than ideal” quality, but they then have to tease out the vital messages from what may be a tangle embedded in the report, and also juggle the team – all of whom may be pursuing their own agenda for the manuscript.

In this issue, Michael Riley gives us his top tips for navigating these tricky waters. With many years of experience honing the skills needed to produce clear, accurate and ethically sound manuscripts, Mike is ideally placed to lay out the pitfalls and suggest how to avoid them when writing manuscripts from clinical study reports. His article has something for every - one, even if you have been writing manuscripts for years.

It only leaves me to wish you the best wishes for the season – a happy and healthy 2017, and in the words of Irving Berlin “may your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white”.



  1. World Medical Association (WMA). Declaration of Helsinki – Ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects. 2013 [cited 2016 Aug 18]. Available from:
  2. Battisti WP, Wager E, Baltzer L, Bridges D, Cairns A, Carswell CI, et al. Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company-Sponsored Medical Research: GPP3. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(6): 461-4.
  3. Altman DG, Simera I. Responsible reporting of health research studies: transparent, complete, accurate and timely. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2010;65(1):1-3.
  4. Gattrell WT, Hopewell S, Young K, Farrow P, White R, Wager E, et al. Professional medical writing support and the quality of randomised controlled trial reporting: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2016;6(2):e010329.
  5. EQUATOR Network. 2016 [cited 2016 Aug 18]. Available from:
  6. Author Aid. Annotated journal article. 2013 [cited 2016 Aug 18]. Available from:
  7. EQUATOR Network. Structure of a medical research paper: key content elements, writing tips and examples of reporting guidelines from the EQUATOR website. 2013 [cited 2016 Aug 18]. Available from: http://www.equatornetwork. org/wp-content/uploads/2013/ 10/Handout-Structure-of-med-res-paper- RG-checklists_FINAL.pdf.
  8. Wells WA. Me write pretty one day: how to write a good scientific paper. J Cell Biol. 2004;165(6):757-8.
  9. Kallestinova ED. How to write your first research paper. Yale J Biol Med. 2011 Sep;84(3):181-90.
  10. Hopewell S, Dutton S, Yu LM, Altman DG. The quality of reports of randomised trials in 2000 and 2006: comparative study of articles indexed in PubMed. BMJ 2010;340:c723.
  11. Hopewell S, Clarke M, Moher D, Wager E, Middleton P, Altman DG, et al. CONSORT for reporting randomized controlled trials in journal and conference abstracts: explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med. 2008;5(1):e20.
  12. Govani SM, Higgins PD. How to read a clinical trial paper: a lesson in basic trial statistics. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2012;8(4):241-8.



Medical Education
President's Message
Writing for mixed-media training programmes
Lessons from building an accredited medical conference: Design and delivery
Medical education in a medcomms agency
Patient education in clinical trials and throughout the product lifecycle
Writing, publishing, and disseminating a medical review
CME in the Deutsches Ärzteblatt and the development of multiple choice questions for medical educational purposes
Covering a medical advisory board meeting and creating the report or publication: The role of the professional medical writer
Peer review fraud
News from the EMA
Journal Watch
In The Bookstores
The Webscout
Good Writing Practice
Medical Communications
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Profile: An Interview with the organisers of the first Internship Forum
Out on Our Own

Member Login


The Write Stuff Archive Contact Instructions for Authors Feature Article Template (Word) Journal Policies

Editoral Board



Managing Editor

show all +

Associate Editors:

Section Editors:

Ad-hoc Editors:

  • Amy Whereat (SpeaktheSpeech Consulting, Asnieres sur Seine, France)

Editor Emeritus: