Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

The gold standard

ISMPP establishes standards to benchmark competency and certify excellence in the medical publications profession

Gold fabricThe Certified Medical Publication Professional (CMPP) credential reflects the evolution of an industry that is striving to raise the bar of professionalism and competency in its medical publication planning activities.

The foresight and leadership behind the development of a credentialing and certification process came from the International Society for Medical Publications Professionals (ISMPP), a non-profit organisation, founded in March 2005, with a vision to be the recognised and respected authority for the pharmaceutical, biotech and device industries' medical publication professionals.

Representing over 800 members from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as medical communications and publications agencies, professional medical writers, journal editors and publishers, ISMPP's focus is on supporting sound, ethical and transparent publishing practices, with a goal of increasing the credibility and expertise of medical publication professionals.

ISMPP initially achieved this objective by developing varied, high-quality educational initiatives (including an annual meeting to help educate and define the role of the medical publication professional in light of the changing medical publications industry). However, the body soon realised more was required if it was to achieve its aim of sustained, systematic, high-quality professional development.

The birth of CMPP
The CMPP credential arose at a time when turmoil in the legal, political, lay media and journal publishing environment was eroding trust and confidence in the industry and placing the profession under significant scrutiny from a range of stakeholders with varying agendas. It was during this time that ISMPP realised the industry lacked a detailed set of criteria by which to define medical publication professionals (such as knowledge, skills, dispositions, etc). This prompted ISMPP to take a leadership role in establishing professional standards and promoting adherence through the provision of a formal, voluntary, professional certification examination.

The ISMPP certification and credentialing process was designed in such a way as to ensure medical publication professionals are qualified, capable and prepared to perform the services for which they are employed. As part of the credentialing process, professionals provide evidence that they are qualified to perform designated medical publication practices and that they understand the ethics and responsibilities that go along with their profession. Medical publication planning is bound by internal mechanisms (eg mission, values, code of ethics, practice standards, etc) and external guidelines (eg ICMJE, CONSORT, Good Publication Practices). The CMPP credential also provides the public, as well as the professional and lay media, with reassurance that the industry is striving towards – and achieving – generally accepted best practices.


Benefits of CMPP Certification

Personal benefits Workplace benefits
Demonstrated knowledge, skills and abilities to internal and external stakeholders Demonstrated recognition of value of CMPP personnel
Commitment to highest levels of scientific and professional integrity Commitment to highest levels of scientific and professional integrity
Recognition as certified in the field by a broad range of stakeholders Support service provider selection
Validation, credibility and growth Marketability


Developing CMPP
Like most certification and credentialing processes, this journey was a long one with discrete milestones. The initiative needed to receive membership approval and significant financial costs were incurred in soliciting a partner organisation that could assist in developing and implementing the programme. CASTLE Worldwide was chosen as the specialised professional testing services company and, after more than two years of hard work that followed a psychometrically rigorous and validated process, the first exam was held in February 2009.

It culminated in an awards ceremony at the 5th Annual Meeting of ISMPP in April 2009 in Philadelphia to honour the 64 individuals who passed the exam and became the first recipients of the CMPP credential. Their names can be accessed at, along with details about the programme and the next scheduled examination in September, for which over 70 applications have already been received.

Currently the CMPP certification programme is administered by a board that is separate from the ISMPP Board of Trustees. This ISMPP Certification Board operates semi-autonomously within ISMPP and is responsible for the appropriate development, evaluation, supervision and administration of all aspects of the ISMPP certification programme.

Programme goals
The programme aims to support a set of common standards for medical publication professionals that are identifiable and measurable, as well as ensure a baseline level of general knowledge in the profession – despite the many areas of specialisation. It also aims to ensure the highest levels of scientific and professional integrity in medical publications, provide a credential that is recognised by a broad number of stakeholders and confirm – individually and personally – that one possesses a defined level of knowledge, experience and commitment to the profession.

As mentioned, ISMPP's credentialing represents a level of professional achievement and a demonstrated knowledge of medical publication planning competence and practice standards. This specifically relates to medical publication professionals' significant responsibilities relating to publishing clinical research and information. As such, the knowledge, aptitudes and tasks associated with the foundation of medical publication professionals' responsibilities are quite extensive and must be demonstrated over four separate competency domains:  strategic publication plan development, tactical publication plan development, publication plan implementation and professional responsibilities.

Strategic publication planning must consider who is the potential audience, assess the audience's current knowledge and information needs, develop the actual strategy to give the plan direction, as well as include scientific statements anchored to source data. Tactical publication plan development specifies the best means of communicating data and scientific statements, involves journal and congress selection, establishes appropriate timelines and budgets and ensures all relevant information exists for a comprehensive tactical plan.

While there are too many responsibilities to list regarding publication plan implementation, they include compiling of data documents, developing audience-appropriate materials with authors, complying with journal and congress requirements, understanding and following the peer review process and project management, to name a few. In terms of professional responsibilities, it is expected that all appropriate standards and guidelines will be considered, legal and ethical requirements will be followed, potential conflicts of interest will be addressed, and current knowledge of the essential elements of relevant research activities and best publication practices will be performed effectively.

The end result of a medical publication professional's ability to demonstrate competency over these four domains via the certification and credentialing process, and attain the rank of a certified CMPP, is a true reflection of each individual's personal commitment to the profession and instills a sense of confidence in one's professional knowledge. It also reflects a dedication to high standards to one's peers and various stakeholders in the medical publication arena.

Striving for excellence
Employers should look to present themselves as providing the very highest level of quality medical publication planning. Medical publication planners should particularly work at an exceptionally high level of competency and ethics, strive to make correct judgments and work in the best interest of achieving best practices.

Equally important is the need to unite forces across our industry to promote the advantages of certification and credentialing. The benefits of this approach, and ISMPP's commitment to the medical publication planning profession, are key to providing the public and professional and lay media with reassurance that the industry is striving towards integrity and excellence in medical publishing.

The Author
Alfred Weigel is director, medical publications, at Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and ISMPP President, 2009-2010.

1st October 2009


Featured jobs

Subscribe to our email news alerts


Add my company
Complete Medical Communications (CMC)

CMC is a leading global agency dedicated to healthcare communications across the lifecycle. We combine scientific acumen, excellence in delivery...

Latest intelligence

Waking the sleeping giant
The lights are coming on for healthcare delivery in Africa...
How to get rep buy-in for multi-channel
How do you manage a team who may be resistant to change?...
Blog: Digital therapeutics: within our reach?
Digital therapeutics is a hot topic right now. By using digital technology to manage, treat or even prevent chronic conditions, digital therapeutics is promising to revolutionise healthcare. But is this...