In the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, ethical practices directly affect patients’ lives. One incorrect use of a drug to treat a disease for which it’s not approved could result in a significant adverse reaction — even death. To help ensure their products are used properly within the healthcare community, companies often employ medical science liaisons (MSLs) to build and foster collaborations with hospital and university scientists, researchers and physicians — and even government constituents.
No one, perhaps, is a better expert in, and advocate of, the contributions of MSLs than Jane Chin Ph.D. A former MSL herself, Chin created the Medical Science Liaison Quarterly (mslquarterly.com) in 2003, the first Web site — in fact, the first resource — devoted specifically to MSLs.
“Even though MSLs connect with so many people, it can be an isolating job,” Chin says. “Most work from their home offices. When I was an MSL, there was nothing on the Internet or in print that pertained to our field. So I started my own Web site.”
Chin researched and wrote articles and reports that she knew would interest MSLs, and she even conducted surveys and shared best practices. Her site became so popular that she left her job and founded the MSL Institute (mslinstitute.com) the very next year.
Along with offering MSL hiring, training and consulting services, Chin continued to publish the MSL Quarterly online. Eventually, she noticed bits and pieces of her valuable work appearing in other consultants’ training binders and presentations. She needed a publishing medium that would offer more copyright protection than the Web — one that would be immune to simple copy and paste computer keyboard commands.
“A friend told me about MagCloud, and while I know that a print magazine won’t eliminate plagiarism, it certainly makes it more difficult,” Chin says. “Plus, I liked the idea of offering clients something tangible. MSL Quarterly isn’t for leisure reading. It’s something you really want to concentrate on. Having it in print means readers can underline helpful passages and make notes in the margins.
“For mass distribution, yes, digital is a good way to go,” Chin adds. “But for a focused audience like mine, I was very excited to move to print. There’s nothing like holding paper in your hand.”
Chin published her first print issue of MSL Quarterly in January 2009 ($47), a 28-page issue focused on MSL training and business acumen. She quickly followed with nine more issues covering everything from compliance and clinical trials to metrics and salary surveys.
While most issues contain new content, Chin likes that she can revise and print popular articles and reports from the more than 100 in her MSL Quarterly Web site archives. She’s even published popular chapters from in-depth research reports as their own individual magazines.
Chin promotes each issue through both her MSL Quarterly and her MSL Institute sites. She includes links to MagCloud’s site, inviting readers to preview the issues before placing orders.
Because MSL Quarterly is a scholarly publication, Chin appreciates MagCloud’s easy-to-use layout template and the print quality. “My readers are just interested in content — not the design — so a simple template works fine for my purposes,” she says. “The print quality is what’s important. My magazine is semi-glossy with full color. I’m very pleased by the quality and consistency of each issue.”
And, of course, the price is right. “I really need to keep my overhead as small as possible, so I love that MagCloud has no upfront fees,” Chin says. “I’m willing for MagCloud to take a percentage of each magazine I sell. I feel much better about that than having my profit eliminated all together by people illegally sharing my work.”
So has the magazine eliminated all MSL Quarterly copyright violations?
“Obviously, if someone wants to plagiarize or otherwise violate copyrights, there’s little I can do to prevent it,” Chin says. “However, a company training department recently placed an order for a large quantity of magazines to distribute to its MSL team. Before, they’d probably purchase one of my articles online and then email it to everyone. So, overall, I’d say that printing the magazine has reduced copyright infringement and the illegal sharing — both of which were cutting into my bottom line before.”
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