As an advanced chemistry solutions provider, we are constantly asked by jobseekers which particular skills we are looking for in job candidates.
Knowledge of complex chemistry? Demonstrable scientific problem-solving skills? Experience with the latest analytical systems?
Yes, yes and yes, of course.
But there is also one highly-sought-after skill that isn’t easily taught at the lab bench. That skill? Technical writing.
Technical writing abilities are important to both Neuland’s and our clients’ success. For us, it’s not something we consider an afterthought during the hiring process. We believe it is critical that potential team members demonstrate strong aptitude for technical writing.
Technical Writing: A Desirable Skill
Technical life science writers – notably, those skilled in medical/clinical, or scientific writing – play an increasingly prominent role with life science companies. From the perspective of a complex chemistry solutions provider, companies that seek to outsource some or all of their research, development and manufacturing work want both their team members and ours to have superior technical communication skills. In fact, life science firms are increasingly demanding that service providers and partners provide these functions.
Today’s life science companies need employees that can write and communicate well – not only for peer-reviewed papers, but also to avoid potential miscommunications internally. With soaring drug discovery and commercialization costs and timeframes, clear communications are critical.
Here are some areas in which technical writing capabilities prove to be an essential tool for life sciences companies:
- Internal & Regulatory Communications
Writing clearly results in better reading comprehension. With multiple protocols and sometimes poorly-defined (or misinterpreted) regulatory guidance, understanding – and being able to communicate using – technical communications is a key team skill. Focusing on building a strong technical writing competency helps us at Neuland ensure we’re putting together the best compliance documentation possible – whether it’s GMP or non-GMP. The need for technical writing skills stretches beyond the regulatory, compliance and quality environments, however, and includes areas as diverse as validation and research & development.
Life science research, in particular, is powered by technical writing. From lab reports to peer review articles in respected industry journals (a bit more about peer review below), well-written documents make a difference. They help scientists evaluate data & conclusions, and decide development and design issues. They get published and cited. They clear the path for problem-solving in drug discovery.
- Explaining Science to Laypeople
Investors – essential to life science research and discovery – are just as likely to possess in-depth technical knowledge of your field as they are to be unaware of how to even pronounce your field. Boiling down highly-technical data and expressing complex ideas in a clear, well-organized and layperson-friendly manner can make the difference to future funding.In the case of CRO/CMO firms such as Neuland Labs, there is frequently a need to communicate highly technical information to a client’s project manager who may or may not possess deep technical process knowledge. In cases where that technical information can impact strategic company decision-making, it needs to be provided to the client in a format that contributes to and facilitates that process.
- Peer Review
Peer review – the evaluation of one’s work by others knowledgeable in the field – is frequently the life blood of a company seeking to attract coverage or create industry awareness. It can be performed by professionals (professional peer review) or scholars (scholarly peer review). Whether the audience is researchers, clinicians or other technically-minded audiences, peer review standards are often highly demanding as accuracy and clarity are critical.
A Good Technical Writer… So what are some of the traits of a good technical writer? There are no hard-and-fast rules, but we like to see people who demonstrate keen observation, organization & analytical skills, are willing learners, good communicators (both spoken and written) and knowledgeable in experimental design, GMPs and other technical skills specific to the position.
How important are technical writing skills to your company?