The Pharmaceutical Journal has become out of touch

It is likely that, if this letter is ever published, I will not get to read it. The reason? Well, I am slightly embarrassed to say that, as soon as my Pharmaceutical Journal arrives, I unwrap it from its plastic envelope, have a quick flick through, then head straight to the recycling bin and, with a tinge of guilt, I unceremoniously dump it there.

It is a habit I have developed over the past few years and I cannot see any way out. This is not something I admit to lightly, but I have thought about this for too long to stay silent any longer.

You see, The
Pharmaceutical Journal does not deliver what I am looking for and, sadly, it has not done for a few years. The content is mainly irrelevant to regular pharmacists like myself or, if an article is of interest, I have already read it on the website some time before. It seems to have focused on what can only be described as niche content that fails to deliver much interest because it is of no use to my practice. This is probably the same for the majority of RPS members. The magazine content is just completely out of touch with what is happening on the ground.

I do have to declare an interest. In my spare time, I run a successful website for pharmacists with a colleague, As two practising pharmacists with decades of experience, we have a good understanding of what interests pharmacists, and endeavour to deliver content that is relevant and engaging, we listen to feedback and interact daily with our readers electronically and frequently in person at pharmacy events.

As an observer, it looks strategically like The
Pharmaceutical Journal has focused on an international audience at the expense of its grassroots members. But is this strategy working? Does The Pharmaceutical Journal make the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) money, or is it an expensive exercise in vanity?

I am a supporter of the RPS — I’ve got the Faculty pin and everything to show that — but it is time The Pharmaceutical Journal reverted to deliver content that is more relevant.

The RPS’s journal has to appeal to the membership, not the international elite. Take a look at the editorial board of Clinical Pharmacist for example (I could not find a list for The
Pharmaceutical Journal) — it is a panel of experts from around the world, but is that representative of the membership? Are they best-placed to advise on what pharmacists working in practice might find interesting?

A good journal should be about providing readers with information that enables them to make good decisions in practice, and strong professional leadership is required at the helm to ensure this happens.

My letter is not about bashing The
Pharmaceutical Journal for the sake of it, but a plea to change direction and deliver what members need. I want a successful journal that is widely read by members (I am not interested in how it is received internationally) and supported with thriving advertising revenue. Perhaps it is time to consider ditching the print journals and all the costs involved in that, and focus on digital content and have something we can be proud of again.

The Pharmaceutical Journal needs more pharmacist input. I know some of the great pharmacists working there, so let us give them more input and let us have a pharmacist as editor again, providing the much-needed focused leadership that The
Pharmaceutical Journal editorial team and the RPS members deserve.

Ross Ferguson


Tony Scully, acting publisher, The Pharmaceutical Journal, responds:

Thank you for your correspondence and comments. All the feedback we receive is valuable to us and I am sorry that you feel the journal no longer provides you with relevant content.

However, our most recent member survey, conducted in mid-2016, showed that around 75% of Royal Pharmaceutical Society members were either satisfied or very satisfied with the print edition of The
Pharmaceutical Journal; 2.3% of members were very dissatisfied.

Although the subjects we cover and the types of content we produce are in line with the preference of most members, these results do not dictate our editorial strategy. Rather, surveys are integral to our strategy; we are always working to improve for all members.

Pharmacy is a diverse and varied profession — a challenge as well as an exciting opportunity — and we try incredibly hard to create interesting and insightful content for all practising pharmacists.

I am confident that we have a talented multidisciplinary team in house, a team capable of producing high-quality content that reflects the lives of members through these challenging times.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2017, Vol 298, No 7898;298(7898):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202302

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