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The Pharmaceutical Journal re-launch: The plan

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In the previous post on our blog “Inside The Pharmaceutical Journal” I talked about upcoming changes to your journal. In this post I will outline a summary of changes that you will gradually see during 2014.

First, let me deal with the elephant in the room and answer your most common question. Are we going to stop the print publication? No! There are a large number of RPS members who believe that if our digital platforms did what they are supposed to do, they wouldn’t need the print edition of The Pharmaceutical Journal. Fair enough, and you will soon be able to opt out of receiving the print version if you wish to. However, a significant proportion of our readers have clearly told us that they love their weekly print copy and they don’t want to lose it. In the future, those who want the printed journal can continue to receive it, and they will see an even better-designed offering. If, and when, in the future the demand for a print edition ceases to exist, then we will stop delivering it, but we are not there yet.

No one can deny that our website could be better; in fact, it needs to be much better, and we haven’t shied away from this. In 2013, the RPS approved an investment for building a new platform for The Pharmaceutical Journal, and our options were either to go for quick fixes and improvements, or to build a whole new and fit-for-purpose platform. We have gone with the second option. This will enable us to provide you with premium content (and by “content” we don’t mean just “text”) and to offer a great user experience. Such a platform needs to be built in a future-proof way, so it can be constantly improved and updated without the need to rebuild it from scratch every other year. Therefore, bear with us, and soon you will see that this patience has been worthwhile.

Not surprisingly, our new web platform is at the heart of our relaunch programme, although the print version will also undergo a process of redesign to reflect the new structure. A lot of thought has gone into the new platform, the outcome of which you will be able to see within the next six months. We want to be your ultimate source of information for news, opinion, analysis, learning and career development. To nurture such a bold aspiration, we had to think about several issues and have plans for each of the following:

  • Content structure: With a well structured content, you would easily identify what the type (or tone or function) of an article is (eg, a news piece, a feature article, a review, etc.), what the article is about (eg, a new drug being approved, a new regulation, etc.), who the article is about (eg, a person, an organisation, etc.) and with what sectors, geographical locations, or disciplines it deals.
  • Content scope: This explains what types of topics we would cover. What is the remit of The Journal? Who are talking to? Who will be reading our content, and what do they expect to find when they start reading The Journal?
  • Reach: Are we reaching our target audience? Are the people who matter to us reading our content? Are they talking about it? How do they feel about it? Does everyone in our audience know why we are here and what we are trying to achieve?
    • Platform vs packages of content: This means that we should accommodate two common behaviours in consuming content. Some people would like a “magazine-reading” experience, which means they want a package of content every week with a set table of content that starts at A and finishes at Z. Others would want to easily and rapidly find the a piece of information for which they are looking, and cannot be bothered with reading an issue of a journal from cover to cover. These people also enjoy certain level of serendipity when they are looking for that piece of information, so while they are looking for a piece of information on a topic, and they find out that another topic that is of interest is also covered, they would read it. Creating a balance between serendipity and expectation is what we will try to achieve here.


  • Medium of delivery: People are reading print copies. They are also reading on the web. And now they also expect to read on their mobile devices, tablets and e-readers. We aim to be there for you, wherever you are, and whenever you want us to be there. 
  • Design: Design trends change and evolve over time, regardless of the medium. We would like to evolve alongside this trend, but more importantly, we want [or to put it right, you want] the design to help with navigation, discoverability, and reading experience.
  • Communication: We should find better ways to communicate with you, and more importantly, we should find better ways to enable you to communicate with us. We need to build a real community, where we can all discuss pressing matters, share our findings, express our views and learn from each other. Only if we establish efficient communication channels, we will be able to influence the world for the better.
  • Enrichment and semantics: It is the age of data. Our content does not live in a silo, but within an ever expanding ocean of data on the web. Our information should be both human-readable and machine-readable, and we should also be able to “read”, interpret and use the data that are not produced by us. Our primary duty, obviously, is to speak to humans, which is the visible information to the readers. But we also need to speak to machines which facilitate the propagation of our information and data to other humans to whom we do not have direct access. We also need to enable our machines to read the information out there and make it available to our readers, who may not have direct access to that information. This is what is commonly called as “metadata”, or “data about data’” which may not be directly visible to a human reader.
  • Workflows and processes: This may not be of direct interest to you as a reader, since it is about how we will change our processes to accommodate all the above goals. We will try to decommission all the parallel and duplicate production processes and replace them with a single digital-first workflow.

Stay tuned!


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