In early 2021, we will launch a new digital platform for the PJ, one that will transform how you engage with the editorial content we create for you as a valued member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and our readership.
As our current website provider is retiring the technology behind it, we took the opportunity to build our own bespoke platform. We have invested in the things you want to see from your professional publication, from making it easier to sign in and simpler navigation to the ability to personalise your experience, highlighting content of most interest to you while also showing the diverse subjects we cover in serving all sectors of pharmacy.
The PJ team has worked incredibly hard throughout the year alongside a technology company to design a new website with you in mind. Insight from extensive surveys has helped prioritise what we deliver and focus groups with members have told us what we need to improve. As we will no longer be reliant on a single technology partner, we can truly have a culture of continuous improvement, and there are other benefits that will follow the launch.
The advantages of the new platform also mean that we have taken the decision to shift away from the monthly print edition of the PJ in 2021, refocusing the team’s efforts to make the most of our new capabilities. Our readers will then have access to a multimedia experience, enabling them to record CPD activity, listen to podcasts and watch video content. This move also comes with the not insignificant benefit of reducing our environmental footprint — saving the equivalent of over 15 million pages of paper, or 1,600 40ft-tall trees, each year.
Free access to research portfolio
In another important development, from January 2021 we will partner with Oxford University Press to provide you with free access to our portfolio of research journals as part of your membership for the first time, including the Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice and the Journal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research.
Bringing together these journals — which were previously behind a subscription wall when they were managed by publisher John Wiley & Sons — with the journals we manage in-house, positions The Pharmaceutical Journal as the flagship publication of a portfolio. Our research promotes the best in pharmacology and pharmacy practice, and is fundamental to the Society’s mission to promote impactful research.
From consumption to engagement
We have made several big changes to the PJ in the past six years since becoming ‘digital first’ in 2014. Then, the major improvement was how we provided you with content. Changing the weekly print publication into a monthly in 2015 meant that the team were able to publish content much faster online, with new articles published daily. Going monthly meant we could spend more time on print design for our features and in data visualisation. It was never about cutting back, but about being smarter and cutting down on all the repetitive tasks that are completed to produce a print magazine: print orders and page plans, for example.
With going monthly, we were able to spend more time creating content. More recently, moving the peer-reviewed content published in Clinical Pharmacist into the PJ in 2019 helped us maintain our editorial output while making the PJ a more rounded journal, which better represented the range of work that pharmacists now do.
Now, we aim to continue maintaining our editorial output. By working smarter and giving the team time to focus on digital production and the performance of published content, rather than pouring our efforts into a print publication, we hope to bring our CPD and research content into the 21st century to offer a far better experience for our users. Our new platform gives us the ability to design integrated courses, multimedia elements and more sophisticated learning tools, creating a CPD experience with the user in mind, rather than just using the written word.
Moving past print
The reality is that the world has changed entirely in the 20 years since we first went ‘electronic’ with our original website in 1999. Consumer technology has advanced at an eye-watering speed, with mobile phones that can do everything from daily banking and online shopping, to controlling home heating and turning off lights.
We acknowledge that some people prefer print, especially those who have valued the print edition for much of their career, but we must take the decision to work towards a digital future. Our goal is to deliver a positive experience online for all, and we will work to understand how we can best support our members and readers through this transition.
The last monthly print issue will be sent out in February 2021.
The latest publishing technology enables us to offer so much more than we can do on the printed page, such as testing modules for CPD, content personalisation and facilitating online comments and article sharing. We will embrace these opportunities, using technology to add value to content.
A monthly print publication is not the ideal format to help you stay informed on the latest news and developments. One of the best ways for readers to keep up to date with new content is by signing up to receive newsletters. We are looking to evolve our offering beyond the monthly, weekly and daily newsletters to provide product-specific updates that reflect your interests, including clinical and specialist topics.
Over the coming weeks and months, I will explain in greater depth the detail of the various changes we will be making and their timings. I will explain the rationale behind the improvements and how we plan to gather feedback, in addition to generating new insights from online analytics that will give us a clearer picture of how our digital products serve you.
While 2020 has proved one of the most disruptive of years to modern life — and devastating to public health — we can look with some hope to 2021, with the rollout of vaccines and the return to some semblance of normal life. It is clear that technology will continue to change however we live, and our priority is to ensure that the PJ is fit for the future.
Tony Scully, Publisher of Pharmaceutical Journal Publications