Medical Writing The Medical Writing Business In this issue… The Medical Writing Business

Volume 24, Issue 3 - The Medical Writing Business

In this issue… The Medical Writing Business

As medical writers, we strive not just to survive but to thrive. Threats, opportunities, and complications come from many directions, and how to best position ourselves, our departments, and our companies requires much thought. Money is important but so too is finding the best way to operate within the competitive business of medical writing.

A recurrent topic in the medical writing business – and one that frequently creates a great deal of concern – is the threat of cheap outsourcing. Related to this is how to convince clients to pay decent rates for quality work. I myself have had several conversations in the last year about this and have spent much time thinking about it. Michelle Guillemard takes on this subject directly, asking ‘Is cheap outsourcing a threat to your career?' Her answer is no – with caveats – and she tells us how to combat it. Julia Forjanic Klapproth takes on this question from a different angle, explaining how clients can optimise outsourcing to professional medical writers. In essence, their conclusions are the same: in the end, you get what you pay for.

Those of us working as freelancers or for agencies understand that the business of medical writing is competitive. Clients are always trying to get more for less, and freelancers and agencies are trying to beat their competition for good-paying work. But is it time for medical writing agencies to not just compete but to cooperate for the common good? Karen Wooley and colleagues describe the results of the Agency Executive Forum, sponsored by ISMPP (the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals). The Forum came up with a number of areas of potential collaboration, including proposing best practices for working with freelance medical writers and for responding to procurement-driven requests for information.

As individuals, we often ask ourselves if another type of business would be better for us. For example, many medical writers working for an employer fantasize about the independence of freelancing. Other medical writers might be thinking about creating their own company or running a medical writing department within a company or institution. For someone thinking about switching business types, there is much to consider. Kathryn White gives some practical advice about taking the leap from employee to freelancer and provides helpful advice for those already freelancing who want to maintain or grow their business. Helen Baldwin, founder of Scinopsis, follows with an article about setting up a medical writing company and what she has learned about how to build and maintain its success. Stephen Palmer and Marianne Mallia add their experience in setting up and running the Section of Scientific Publications at the Texas Heart Institute, an excellent model for a scientific or medical writing service within a company or institution.

For providers, the medical writing business is about selling. But selling is not limited to services; it also applies to the writer. As explained in Laura C. Collada Ali's profile of professional coach Dawn Bentley, whether you realise it or not, you are a brand, even if you are an employee. Your work, behaviour, and ability to communicate leave an impression – a ‘personal brand' – that you sell to clients or employers. Dawn describes the benefits of this way of thinking and provides tips on how to create and polish your own personal brand.

I hope that these articles and the regular features in this issue of Medical Writing provide you with information that can help you better navigate the medical writing business.

Bonne chasse!

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In this issue… The Medical Writing Business
President's Message
Setting up and running a medical writing company
For the greater good…Can agency competitors cooperate to advance medical publication practices?
The Section of Scientific Publications at the Texas Heart Institute
Is cheap outsourcing a threat to your career?
Successfully outsourcing medical writing
Freelancing – Are you ready to go solo?
News from the EMA
European Science Editing: May 2015 picks
Profile: An interview with Dawn Bentley: How personal branding can advance your professional career!
The Webscout
In the Bookstores
Regulatory Writing: New developments in public disclosure of clinical trials
Lingua Franca and Beyond
Gained in Translation
HIV research fraudster handed stiff prison sentence
English Grammar and Style: Good Writing Practice
Did you know that EMWA has an archive of webinar material on our website?
Medical Communications
Out On Our Own


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

Editoral Board


Raquel Billiones


Evguenia Alechine

Jonathan Pitt

Managing Editor

Victoria White

Deputy Managing Editor

Alicia Brooks Waltman

Associate Editors

Anuradha Alahari

Jennifer Bell

Nicole Bezuidenhout

Claire Chang

Barbara Grossman

Sarah Milner

John Plant

Sampoorna Rappaz

Amy Whereat

Section Editors

Daniela Kamir


Jennifer Bell


Nicole Bezuidenhout 

Digital Communication

Somsuvro Basu

EMWA News 

Ana Sofia Correia 

Gained in Translation

Ivana Turek

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Wendy Kingdom / Amy Whereat

Good Writing Practice

Alison McIntosh 

In the Bookstores

Maria Kołtowska-Häggström

Lingua Franca and Beyond

Maddy Dyer


Lisa Chamberlain-James

Medical Communications/Writing for Patients

Payal Bhatia

Medical Devices

Evguenia Alechine

My First Medical Writing

Anuradha Alahari

News from the EMA

Adriana Rocha


Tiziana von Bruchhausen


Clare ChangZuo Yen Lee 

Regulatory Matters

Sam Hamilton

Regulatory Public Disclosure

Claire Gudex

Teaching Medical Writing

Louisa Ludwig-Begall / Sarah Kabani

The Crofter: Sustainable Communications

Louisa Marcombes

Veterinary Writing

Editors Emeritus

Elise Langdon-Neuner

Phil Leventhal

Layout Designer

Chris Monk