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In Key Opinion Leader Management, Quantity Does Not Equal Quality in Evaluating a Scientist's Real Importance

10-14-2009 06:36 PM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Lnx Pharma

Researcher co-author relationships were analyzed using social network analysis. Data from each disease area was normalized, and compared in two categories: Publications and Social Network Metrics.

Researcher co-author relationships were analyzed using social network analysis. Data from each disease area was normalized, and compared in two categories: Publications and Social Network Metrics.

Using Social Network Analysis in Influence Mapping, Lnx Pharma Research Finds Pharmaceutical Companies May Be Ignoring Up To 50% of Key Scientific Leaders

ORANGE, CA -- September 30, 2009 -- Lnx Pharma's research results shatter current best practice for companies in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research who seek out "Key Opinion Leaders" (KOLs) among the scientific community to help advise research and development teams.

In drug development and pharmaceutical market research, companies seek out KOLs for many reasons, particularly in their pharmaceutical commercialization strategies. Until now, Key Opinion Leader Management focused primarily on those scientific leaders who are frequent publishers in high-visibility journals and academic papers, plus well-known speakers and educators.

Lnx Pharma, a research firm in Orange, CA that specializes in complex social network analysis for key opinion leader management and influence mapping, has found overwhelming evidence that pharmaceutical companies are missing consideration of a significant pool of truly valuable candidates that have influence in specific disease research worldwide – up to half of the most key influencers in a category.

“Our findings challenge the general notion that people who are productive authors are actually connected and meaningful to the community,” says Philip Topham, General Manager. “Their ideas may be meaningful, but this shows that they don't always have the relationships with others in the community so their ideas may not be spread around as easily to peers and colleagues. If you're an isolated person, it's hard for ideas to flow. Conversely, there are people that companies might dismiss because there is not much evidence of their importance as measured by publication counts. But we find them highly connected in roles such as advisors and trusted colleagues, or subject matter experts to the community.”

Lnx Pharma uses “social network analysis” to decipher the real relationships in the medical and pharmaceutical research communities. Applying their proprietary technology to the universe of people and publications, they found across multiple disease categories that 50% of potentially valuable key scientific leaders were actually not the most frequently published or cited scientists. That is to say, if pharmaceutical companies are only considering volume and popularity as a metric for evaluating key advisors, they are missing up to half of the people who may be truly of importance.

Analyzing over a dozen disease categories for clients who engage the company for custom research, Lnx Pharma consistently found many previously undervalued or unknown KOLs, but more importantly they uncovered critical information about how people work and organize around specific ideas and topics. Importance can't be reliably measured by a list using one or two ranking criteria. Lnx Pharma technology allows deciphering of the complex web of relationship in the ecosystem of human expert networks, identifying relative positions of individuals in the network, based on multiple highly relevant criteria. The results are critical not only for Key Opinion Leader management, but also for overall pharmaceutical marketing research.

“Many of our clients have completely adjusted their marketing strategy,” says Topham. “It's incredibly expensive to put together an advisory board, and making mistakes about who to engage can be critical in the long run. Our system erases the biases of cronyism and publishing volume, as well as being more inclusive of global candidates. The result is a more balanced and truly relevant group of key opinion leaders.”

The full results of Lnx Pharma's research will be presented at the CBI Research Conference “Defining Appropriate and Effective Interactions with Thought Leaders and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)”, November 9-10. Companies and press interested in obtaining preview copies of the research may register for notification here:

About Lnx Pharma
Lnx Pharma is a division of Lnx Research, LLC a privately held company based in Irvine, California, dedicated to leadership in the analysis of knowledge-creating communities. Lnx Research utilizes proprietary social network analysis methods and technologies to identify and understand "The Invisible College" of key opinion leaders in order to answer questions about knowledge communities for government and commercial clients in multiple industries. For white papers on this topic, or more specific information on Lnx Pharma, email, or see

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