Newsletter-December 2012

AMWA Twin Cities Discussion Group

The December 2012 meeting of the AMWA Twin Cities Discussion Group will not be held. Check future newsletters for updates on this group. If you have questions about future meetings, please contact Michele Burlew.


South East Minnesota AMWA Writers and Editors Discussion Group

The SE Minnesota AMWA Writers and Editors Discussion Group and bring-your-own-lunch will meet on Friday, December 21, 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. This meeting will feature holiday cookies made by June Oshiro!  Directions to the meeting are on their subpage to this website. Please RSVP by the morning of the Friday meeting (e-mail June Oshiro [osh…]) if you plan to attend, especially if this is your first time joining the group.


North Central Chapter Book Club

The North Central Chapter Book Club will meet on Monday, January 28 to discuss The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean.

The Book Club meets at 11 a.m. at The Egg & I (2550 University Avenue, in the northwest corner of the old International Harvester building, now renovated, just west of Highway 280 near the Minneapolis-St. Paul border — with 2 free parking lots, a small one north of the restaurant and a large one east of it).  RSVP by 9 a.m. on Book Club Monday, so that the coordinator can call ahead to have a table waiting.

Mary Knatterud is the North Central Chapter Book Club Coordinator. E-mail Mary at MKna….


Call for North Central Chapter Volunteers!

As we approach 2013, the North Central Chapter is looking for volunteers to work with a dynamic chapter leadership team. Our chapter has a need for the following officers and committee chairs:

  • Finance Committee Chair: Primary responsibilities include annual audits of the chapter finances, development of our annual budget, and establishing budgets for large chapter events
  • Co-Secretary: Primary responsibilities include working with the current secretary to “learn the ropes” associated with issuing the monthly newsletter, participate in monthly conference calls as a member of the executive committee, serve as a mentor to your incoming replacement in the final year of your term (full term is 3-year), send info to the national organization regarding chapter officers and activities.
  • President Elect: Primary responsibilities include serving as our chapter delegate to the biannual national board of directors meetings, participate in monthly conference calls as a member of the executive committee, sit on the publications committee.

If you’re interested in volunteering for any of these positions, please contact any member of the North Central Chapter Executive Committee.


Call for AMWA 2013 Annual Conference Program Proposals

Become a Part of the 2013 AMWA Annual Conference: Submit a Proposal for a Presentation in Columbus, OH, November 6-9, 2013.

AMWA has expanded the opportunities for members to become involved with developing presentations for the AMWA Annual Conference and now invites members to submit proposals for all types of conference sessions. In addition to the chance to share your expertise with colleagues, presenting at the AMWA Annual Conference offers outstanding opportunities for professional growth and development:

  • Establish yourself as an expert in your field
  • Enhance your portfolio
  • Hone your presentation skills
  • Increase the visibility of your specialty area or business
  • Network with colleagues

It’s now even more exciting to present at the AMWA Annual Conference because you can choose to present in a traditional session or in one of several new, innovative session formats, such as Pro/Con Debates or Hands On Demonstrations.

For its 2013 Annual Conference, AMWA encourages presentations, on regulatory and journal article writing, freelancing, and journal management. In addition, AMWA especially seeks presentations on topics of special interest, such as:

  • Coaching/mentoring
  • Collaborative work styles
  • Communication theory
  • Effects of the economy
  • Health care reform
  • Project management
  • Technology
  • Writing for lay audiences

All proposals will be peer reviewed by the AMWA Annual Conference Program Committee and evaluated for the following:

  • Content  and relevance of the topic
  • Quality and clarity of writing in the proposal
  • Value of learning objectives
  • Format and degree of learner interactivity
  • Past successes of similar presentations
  • Number of other submissions on the same topic
  • Historical speaker evaluation ratings
  • Overall contribution to the 2013 AMWA Annual Conference

More information and tips for developing a high-quality proposal are available online.


Fall Chapter Event: How Good is This Manuscript—Reading Medical Literature with a Critical Eye

By Paul W. Mamula, PhD

Following a brief meet and greet, North Central Chapter members were treated to a presentation by Daniel J. Weisdorf, MD, who provided an overview of how to analyze published medical studies. Dr Weisdorf is Professor of Medicine and Director, Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program in the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.  In addition to his clinical duties, Dr Weisdorf organizes a departmental journal club for residents, staff, and fellows.

Attendees at the November 3rd meeting received three clinical trial papers before the talk; at the end the papers were summarized and then discussed in an open question-and-answer format.

Dr Weisdorf began with recommendations for how to review and analyze a clinical study. He suggested that one avoid beginning with the abstract and skimming the figures, partly because the abstract is a summary, and the figures often show the best results. Additional points included:

  • Review the Methods Section. This explains how patients were included or excluded for a given study. Patient participation will dictate the study’s generalizability. Beginning with the methods section allows one to search for the study’s hidden pitfalls. It’s critical to account for all patients in the study since those lost to follow-up can influence results.
  • Look at Patient Subsets. Too many subsets can weaken the study. They can also be a sign of “hunting for P values” or looking for something significant in a study that otherwise shows no positive results. Even studies that show negative results or no effect can nonetheless provide important information.
  • Review the Figures. How are they used? Figures usually pick the study’s high points and may show only the best data or show data in an overly positive light.
  • Read the Conclusions. One critical detail is whether or not conclusions overstate the results. Conclusions may also generalize their results to a population that was not truly represented in the trial.

Dr Weisdorf went on to describe randomized trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses, as well as discussing factors that go into good evidence-based medicine and clinical trials. These include:

  • Framing the Question. Studies should have an answerable clinical question. He noted that cancer studies have an advantage in that they have more patients than do some fields. The relatively small number of patients in some fields often limits the types of studies possible, and in turn, their statistical power.
  • Therapy Employed. What kind of therapy was employed? Are the therapies widely used? Are they useful for a large number of patients?
  • Are the Results Valid? For the results to be valid, the study needs to have patients randomized to treatment groups, and they need to be representative of the usual patient group. Patients who enroll in trials are often not truly representative; they are usually more educated, more trusting, and willing to accept placebos, among other factors.

He noted that some information about a given trial can be found in the clinical trials registry ( using the clinical trial number. Details of what should be included in clinical trials are included in the updated CONSORT 2010 Statement.1

The last portion of the talk addressed the three clinical papers:

  • Lokhorst HM, van der Holt B, Cornelissen JJ, et al. Donor versus no-donor comparison of newly diagnosed myeloma patients included in the HOVON-50 multiple myeloma study. Blood 2012;119(26):6219-25 (DOI 10.1182/blood-2011-11-393801)
  • Krishnan A, Pasquini MC, Logan B, et al. Autologous haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation followed by allogeneic or autologous haemopoietic stem-cell transplantation in patients with multiple myeloma (BMT CTN 0102): a phase 3 biological assignment trial. Lancet 2011;12:1195-203 (DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70243-1)
  • Kumar S Zhang MJ, Li P, et al. Trends in allogeneic stem cell transplantation for multiple myeloma: a CIBMTR analysis. Blood 2011;118(7):1979-88 (DOI: 10.1182/blood-2011-02-337329)

The discussion of the papers was by necessity brief; however, they illustrated the major points noted, including composition of patient populations, therapy selection, and outcomes.

For those interested in more information about clinical trials and analysis, two additional books are helpful.2,3 The topic was a stimulating one and offered attendees a good deal to think about the next time they read a clinical paper.

References and Resources:

1. Schulz KF, Altman DG, Moher A, for the CONSORT group. CONSORT 2010 Statement: Updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomized trials. PLoS Medicine. 2010;7(3):e1000251 (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000251)

2. Riegelman RK. Studying a study and testing a test. Ed 5. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005 (403 pp). A detailed text that covers analyzing medical studies.

3. Lang TA, Secic M. How to report statistics in medicine. Ed 2. Philadelphia; American College of Physicians, 2006 (490 pp). Mr Lang teaches advanced AMWA workshops on clinical trials, and his book provides an excellent guide to clinical research.