From Publication to Impact: When publication isn’t enough for patients, measure what matters.
By Matt Lewis
The ultimate beneficiary of a biomedical journal article should be the patient. To realize this benefit, a publication must provide both the rational evidence plus a reason to act on the part of a healthcare professional. Sponsors of clinical trials support a huge volume of peer-reviewed publications. But, do we know if these achieve their ultimate goal?
It is not purely a question of measurement. We measure a lot. But, do we measure the right factors? Do we have the right tools to measure what is important?
Let us start with what the industry is good at measuring: How many abstracts did you submit? Did we get 3 posters or 2 orals? Was the manuscript accepted?
Going back to our patient – do these metrics help evaluate real benefit? To address that point, we need to go further. We need to know that the publication has been read (with many prominent journals still failing to report usage metrics on a routine basis), and furthermore, when they are read, who is reading them and what change is occurring as a result? From our agency experience, usage metrics don’t correlate with journal impact factor, and neither often correlates with altmetrics, leaving observers to question which metrics are true measures of publication success and positive change, if any.
I suggest that we re-focus scholarly and scientific communication on impact, rather than just publication, and on metrics that matter, including intention and engagement. I also call on the publications community to welcome the patient’s voice into this dialogue, so that we stand a greater chance of ensuring clinical research has as opportunity to positively impact patient outcomes and lives.