Digital Enhancements for Primary Medical Manuscripts: A Survey on Perceptions, Challenges, and Needs of Medical Publication Professionals


  • Patricia Fonseca, PhD, CMPP Medical Writer/Translator, Cambridge, MA



Given their potential for engaging audiences, there has been increasing interest recently in the use of digital enhancements, such as video abstracts and infographics, for primary publications in peer-reviewed medical journals. However, their uptake by authors and sponsors of medical publications has been mixed, with few top journals offering the possibility of publishing digital enhancements beyond supporting slides and lay summaries. Digital enhancements for primary manuscripts may provide new opportunities for medical writers to expand their skills and services, but it is unclear whether medical writers receive and accept requests to develop digital enhancements regularly and what training they need to generate high-quality deliverables for their clients. Understanding the perspectives of medical publication professionals and their clients on digital enhancements for peer-reviewed journals may help address misconceptions and concerns and identify more effective ways to create auxiliary digital content to support the dissemination of research findings. Here, a survey was conducted to gauge the overall interest in accompanying digital enhancements among medical publication professionals and their perception of their clients’ needs, determine the perceived value of these features, and identify barriers in development. The survey was created and posted on AMWA Engage, AMWA New England Chapter E-News, LinkedIn, and the MedComms Networking webpage. A total of 116 respondents completed the survey. About half had developed digital enhancements for primary publications, mostly for pharmaceutical companies, medical communication agencies, and other nonacademic organizations. Infographics and visual abstracts were the most frequently requested type of enhanced content. Although the respondents recognized the importance of digital enhancements to facilitate data visualization, approximately half reported not having specific training or experience to enable them to accept such assignments. For their clients, the main reasons given for not developing digital enhancements were cost and time constraints, lack of interest, and author unavailability.




How to Cite

Fonseca P. Digital Enhancements for Primary Medical Manuscripts: A Survey on Perceptions, Challenges, and Needs of Medical Publication Professionals. AMWA. 2021;36(3). doi:10.55752/amwa.2021.46



Original Research