Medical Writing Writing Matters Pharmaceutical medical writing competencies: Comparing self-perception with employers' expectations

Volume 21, Issue 3 - Writing Matters

Pharmaceutical medical writing competencies: Comparing self-perception with employers' expectations


In the recently published ‘Pharmaceutical Medical Writing Competency Model’, a group of medical writers describes the knowledge, skills, and behaviours they considered essential for successful medical writers. Thus, this model represents a list of essential job requirements from within the medical writing profession. Using the job postings of the EMWA website (in total 146 adverts from 2009 to 2011), we investigated whether the competencies listed in the model are in line with the expectations of the employers of medical writers. In these adverts, we found that familiarity with the techniques of scientific writing and editing, a science background, the ability to comprehend scientific concepts, and the capability to author quality documents were the most frequently mentioned requirements. Generally, the Competency Model matched well with the requirements mentioned in the job adverts. However, certain essential attributes were rarely mentioned in job adverts; examples include proficiency in statistics and knowledge about publication guidelines. With regard to social skills, job adverts tended to ask for more general skills than those described by the Competency Model. The Competency Model distinguishes between publication and regulatory writers, and this distinction was reflected in the attributes mentioned in the job postings with adverts for regulatory medical writers listing a broader skill set than did those for publication medical writers.

Download the full article


  1. Clemow D, the Drug Information Association Medical Writing Special Interest Area Community Competency Model Working Group. Pharmaceutical medical writing competency model. AMWA J 2011;26(2):62–70.
  2. Woolley K, Clemow D. Development and practical use of an international medical writer competency model. DIA Global Forum 2010;2(3):8–11.
  3. Clemow D. Pharmaceutical medical writing competency model: practical applications. AMWA J 2011;26(3):106–10.
  4. Schindler TM. Reflections on stability? A 3-year analysis of the EMWA website job postings. Write Stuff 2010;19(4):272–4.
  5. Ely J, Lew R, Woolley K. Manners and more! Importance of cultural sensitivity when medical writers work with authors from the Asia-Pacific region. DIA Global Forum 2010;2(4):20–5.
  6. Korieth K. Demand for medical writing continues to rise. CenterWatch Monthly 2008;15(12):1–13.
  7. Witherell G. The importance of medical writers to the success of clinical and regulatory documents. Monitor (Assoc Clin Res Professionals) 2012;16(1):45–8.



Writing Matters
Message from the President
EMWA news
Getting what you want from your scientific writing: tips for writing clearly
What's your problem? A practical approach to scientific document design
The joys of outlining in medical writing
Pleasing the reader by pleasing the eye—Part 1 The role of format and design in readability
Writing visually for medical writers
Quality control: getting the best out of your review
Pharmaceutical medical writing competencies: Comparing self-perception with employers' expectations
In the Bookstores
Journal Watch
The Webscout
Manuscript Writing
Regulatory writing
English Grammar and Style
Out On Our Own
Gained in Translation


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

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