The Good Publication Practice (GPP) guidelines were first published in Current Medical Research and Opinion in 2003 and focused on the potential for publication bias and the relationship between industry and academic researchers. It was drafted by a relatively small group of consultants. Successive iterations of the GPP guidelines (GPP2 in 2009 and GPP3 in 2015) utilized more rigorous consultation processes with larger groups of stakeholders. GPP2 and GPP3 added additional guidance on:
- The roles of authors, sponsors, and professional medical writers
- The establishment of publication steering committees
- Author payment and reimbursement
- ICMJE authorship criteria
- Ghost writing
- Data sharing
GPP 2022 is the fourth version of the guidelines, also termed as GPP4, and was released last year in August 2022. GPP4 builds on and aligns with GPP3 – not intended to disrupt what has gone before, but offer additional guidance and clarity. To summarize, GPP4 provided additional guidelines on:
- The role of the patient and how we deliver information to patients
- Social media usage
- Journal and congress selection
- Supplemental content and publication extenders
- Real world evidence (RWE) / Health economics and outcomes research (HEOR)
On the first anniversary of its release, we are covering a few GPP topics in a series of focused articles including insights from a representative selection of the GPP authors.
Laura Dormer, Lisa DeTora, and Dikran Toroser—3 of the authors within the GPP 2022 steering committee represent 3 different and important industries—academia, biopharma and publishing. Enago Life Sciences interviewed them to gain their insights on some of the new topics covered and their implications so far.
In this article, we spoke with Laura Dormer, Co-Founder & Editorial Director at Becaris Publishing; Editor-in-Chief, Learned Publishing, to gain her perspectives from a publisher point of view.
Interview with Laura
Q1. Looking back to when it was published in 2022, have you witnessed instances where these changes have been applied especially in your particular field (pharma, higher education/academics, publishing)?
“Since the publication of GPP 2022, it has been gratifying to see how many of the new additions have been embraced, and also how it has generated conversations on important issues such as the role of the patient in publications, and the publication of digital features and enhancements. Prior to publication, I had been involved in conversations with authors who were keen to embrace options like plain language content but were unsure how to go about this in a compliant way. The inclusion of these topics in GPP 2022 is helpful for authors who might be working on these sorts of features for the first time.”
Q2. It’s been nearly 12 months since the release of GPP 2022? In your opinion, where do we stand now in terms of uptake and reception?
“Since publication of GPP 2022 I’ve been involved in presentations, roundtable discussions and general conversations about its contents, and what has struck me is how specific a lot of the questions about it have been – people have really been diving into the nitty gritty! GPP 2022 is intended as an overarching guidance that embraces other specific guidelines (such as the ICMJE recommendations on topics such as authorship); and I think it’s encouraging that our industry both has this guidance and the opportunities to discuss ways of appropriately implementing it.
I’m sure the conversations will continue, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Q3. GPP 2022 supports enhanced content in publications, including PLS. Is there anything that you feel would help enhance the development and consumption of PLS?
“The increase in the publication of PLS over the last few years has been great to see. Along with my Becaris Publishing colleague Joanne Walker, I have been pleased to be at the forefront of developments in PLS, in particular the creation of a new article type, the Plain Language Summary of Publication (a standalone, fully plain language article). Many of my fellow publishers are doing great work to aid the development of PLS as well, and I think the best thing to support further uptake of PLS and other enhanced content is for as many publishers as possible to encourage their inclusion, and also to shout about the different options that are available. Different types of publication enhancement can suit different target audiences, and also the resources authors have available for their creation. Publishers need to continue working to encourage publication enhancement options across as many journals as possible, and support authors to make use of these options.”
Q4. What is the GPP position on the use of generative AI in text and images? Please feel free to share any interesting anecdotes or instances that you have encountered.
“As already mentioned, GPP 2022 is an overarching guide that encourages authors to meet publisher and journal guidelines. Publishers have already started to incorporate new information on the use of AI into their journal guidelines (for example, the use of generative AI by authors and peer reviewers), with many adopting the recommendations of ICMJE and WAME, and I’m sure this will continue to develop quickly. AI is a tool, and as such how it is used can be appropriate or inappropriate, and the scholarly publishing industry will need to keep on top of new developments. For example, generative AI can be useful in drafting PLS; but it can also, when asked to provide citations for content, make up imaginary (but plausible sounding) references.
As a publisher, I see many opportunities for AI in terms of improving editorial workflows, article quality and more; but publishers, editors, authors, and peer reviewers will always need to remain accountable for their work.”
Q5. What is your take on open or transparent peer review, and especially for preprints?
“Much like research integrity, methods of peer review continue to be discussed and disagreed on! On the one hand, I think transparency is obviously a good thing, and if it encourages honest and respectful feedback, then great. However, I know there are also good arguments against, such as early-career researchers being wary of criticizing those who are more established in the field.
One of the journals I work on operates single-anonymized review (authors are known to the reviewers, but not vice versa); however, reviewers are given the option to include their name in the report to the authors if they wish. The uptake for this option by reviewers is quite high, and does allow reviewers to take this decision for themselves.”
Q6. What was the best feedback or question you received after releasing GPP 2022?
“People have commented to me how delighted they were that information on PLS was included, along with the recognition of the role patients can play in publications. There are many passionate advocates to make medical publications more accessible to patients, and it’s gratifying to hear that GPP 2022 has been welcomed in this way.”
Q7. What do you foresee for the future of GPP? Any thoughts on what would come up as forecasted requirements based on any developments after the release of GPP 2022?
“A positive feature of GPP 2022 is that even though there’s always something new happening in publishing (the recent emergence of generative AI is a well-publicized example!), it doesn’t immediately become outdated because the overarching ethical principles and support of other specific guidelines (from industry bodies and journals) remain valid.”
Q8. Given the option, and if you had to add or revise any point/s in GPP 2022 at this time point, what might those be and why?
“I think the main questions on GPP 2022 have been about how it can/should be applied in a myriad of different circumstances. To include granular detail like that isn’t appropriate for the GPP document itself, but that’s why it’s useful to have forums like conferences and the GPP FAQs page to dive into these in more detail.”
Q9. Is there any question we should have asked and we haven’t?
“I am very interested in patient engagement in the publication process, and as mentioned previously I’m pleased that GPP 2022 is helping to support the inclusion of patients as authors. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the coming years, as I think publishers have an important role to play in supporting and removing barriers for patient authors.”
We thank Laura for this illuminating interview and for sharing details that we are sure everyone in medcomms and medical affairs will benefit from.