With members in 61 countries, the IBMS aims to be the world’s leading body for biomedical science professionals. Its magazine, The Biomedical Scientist, is at the heart of this vision; the most tangible personification of its authority. Designed to help members perform their jobs better, access the latest evidence, engage in CPD and retain their IBMS membership.
The Biomedical Scientist touches a broad audience within the scientific community. From senior biomedical scientists to students, each issue must deliver content that informs, inspires and entertains. And we know all our readers are critically time poor. Encouraging them just to pick up the magazine is a significant challenge.
Pre-COVID-19, members of the IBMS were dealing with a time of unprecedented change driven by the NHS’s pathology network consolidation. This meant the mergers of different workplaces, possible job losses and even the need for new vocations. During the pandemic, feelings of uncertainty and pressure ramped-up, as labs and clinicians undertook expanded roles to help process COVID-19 tests.
Never had the role of The Biomedical Scientist magazine been more crucial. Not just for informing members about the pandemic, but for continuing to promote pride and excitement in belonging to the profession.
In 2019-20 the need to expand its appeal challenged The Biomedical Scientist to reach new heights of creativity rarely experienced (and certainly not expected) of a prestigious scientific publication.
Then when the coronavirus took hold – thrusting the biomedical scientific community in the spotlight – the magazine was on hand to provide the latest evidence from the world’s top virologists and epidemiologists and showcase the vital work of the IBMS.
A creative shift introduced an unexpected – dare we say – ‘playfulness’ into the magazine, alongside the latest news on the pandemic. At a time when IBMS saw competitor titles rely heavily on dense academic content that can be hard to infiltrate, The Biomedical Scientist enticed readers with an unprecedented run of brilliantly conceived and expertly crafted covers. Combining attention-grabbing artwork with the promise of exclusive features:
- A snail became the December issue cover star to promote an intriguing story about the search for new antibiotics. (Using spot UV to provide its slime trail, and 10 sneaky snail illustrations hidden for readers to find in the run of pages.)
- To accompany a world-exclusive interview with Dolly the sheep’s creator Sir Ian Wilmot, the famous animal was given a tongue-in-cheek double helix-inspired vector makeover.
Inside the magazine, enhancements included:
- A series of ‘lockdown quizzes’ to improve the CPD offering.
- Increased signposting to additional bespoke content, including podcasts, videos and Twitter chats.
- Exclusive features written by the gold-standard professionals, including Professor Barbara Bain, the world’s most famous living morphologist.
This was a creative evolution that in no way undermined the magazine’s authority, with cutting-edge science always at its heart. But it recognised that even biomedical scientists need entertainment.
Online The Biomedical Scientist has its own dedicated digital platform, thebiomedicalscientist.net, giving members access to content on the go. And from 2017 to 2019, user numbers and page views more than doubled, showing increased member engagement and giving the IBMS the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience of potential members.
Last year, this digital drive to widen the influence of The Biomedical Science magazine was extended by a new monthly podcast series, which achieved interest way beyond expectation. And from the most recent readership survey, we know that three-quarters of respondents agree that The Biomedical Scientist is their favourite scientific publication, achieving a remarkable average reading time of 47 minutes per issue.