Transcript – BJUI Podcast
Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, and thank you to Professor Fitzpatrick for inviting me to
speak today and when I got the call from Professor Fitzpatrick to actually speak here, I accepted,
you know, without any hesitation and after I came to write this, I thought “Oh! Well what all am I
going to say? And it was really a trainee’s perspective and this is what I’m going to do today, I’ll
just give you a practical approach of how I started and how, you know, where I’m ending up today
and a lot of things I’m going to say have actually been covered within the discussions. And these
are the steps that I follow when I’m writing the paper. Initially, I need to choose a topic; then you
need to choose the type of article, which you’re going to write about; then you choose the journal
which you’re going to submit to, then you end up writing the article, you correct the article and
then you send the article and we’re going to go through each of these steps and you know ways
of going about doing them.
Choosing the topic is probably the most difficult step especially, if you’re sort of an SHO starting a
new job or a SpR starting a job or a researcher, you probably don’t know much about the topic
and you know it is very difficult, but I think that’s once you get through that step, then things
become easier. Ways of going about it is asking different people, asking your supervisor, your
colleagues, you know, knowing what’s in the literature and then looking at it. Once you find the
topic, you do a literature search and there’s different ways of doing literature search. You go onto
PubMed, it is the probably the most common literature search engine, where you can go onto
Google scholar, there’s something called Scopus which has been advertised quite heavily in
certain journals. Choosing the art, once you’ve done the literature, say try to choose something
which is interesting, not only for the readers, but also for you because if you’re not interested and
say, you know, your interest is prostate cancer and then you end up writing something about
incontinence, you may not give it exactly the same sort of flavour as if you’re writing something,
which is very interesting to you. It has to be original, something that hasn’t been done before,
because you can always write about things, a lot of the Review Articles have already been
published before and certainly now as Professor Fitzpatrick, I think, said you know you can write
up the same article, sorry Professor Kirby mentioned, you know, you could be asked to write a
Review Article on say prostate cancer and you know, once you write it three or four times, you
have difficulty in writing a similar Review Article, so try to find something which is original. And as
I said, get advices from your supervisors, from your colleagues and from your consultants.
This is just, sort of, from Scopus basically and it’s quite a good, I already started using it a few
months ago, and it gives you a lot of things about, you know, people who have published and you
can see how many documents they’ve published. It’s quite good and you know, similar to
Medline, but it summarizes things. So what are the types of articles you can write? Letters to the
editor, they’re probably the easiest and my first paper was a letter to the British Medical Journal
and I was really upset because it didn’t get into the mainstream British Medical; it got into the
Electronic British Medical Journal, which was when I was SHO. So, you know, it starts with a
Letter to the editor, pick up an article you’re interested in, and then just write something about it,
speak to your consultant or your colleagues and you know, write something about it and send it to
the editor. Case Reports, any interesting cases you come across is probably worth writing and
there’s lots of journals which you can submit to and there’s now something called Cases Journals
and only all they accept is case reports and the new the British Medical Journal British Journal of
Surgery and Medicine in Urology, accepts case reports, so that’s another thing to write about it.
Editorials are probably difficult because they’re normally written by the editors. Review Articles,
they’re usually invited but there’s no reason why you can’t write to an editor and say, I’ll be
interested in writing this Review Article, this is the plan, would you be interested, but you’re
usually invited articles by the editors to authors. And Original Papers, you have to do the
research really to do the original papers, whether it’s a small study or a big randomized control
study that will give you the original papers.
Where to submit, factors to consider - I’ve put impact factor because that’s the thing that I was
sort of most obsessed with when I started writing papers is what is the impact factor, but the more
you write, the more you realize that impact factor is probably the least important because there’s
a lot of factors that influence it and I think that’s been covered already. The audience, I mean, if
you’re writing the urology paper, you probably want to send it to a urology journal, unless its
something that you want everyone, you know, like send it to the New England Journal of
Medicine, if its something very important. The prestige of the journal, that, sort of, links into the
impact factor, but you know, you could consider that; author preference, if you’re writing, if you’re
a supervisor for example, has written to a journal and has been writing to a journal and publishing
there, then they may publish your work more preferentially than other journals. Whether it’s
indexed on Medline- not all papers, not all journals are indexed on Medline, sort of, one of my
papers in Journal of Paediatric Urology, it’s not on Medline, but they do get on Medline, you
know, five years down the line, once they’ve got the impact factor and the publications and
citations. So it may come on later on but Medline is not the only search engine as I mentioned,
so, you know, be flexible. Journal reply time, may be that would influence, you know, if you’re
trying to apply for a job and suddenly you know, you’ve got two weeks for the interview and you
want a reply within a week, to see whether your article is published, to put it on your CV, then you
may want to consider that. Anonymity, that’s very important. I’ve reviewed for some journals and
you get the author’s name and that sometimes actually biases reviewers; that you may need to
look into that and see whether your journal is going to be, your paper is going to be anonymous
when it is going to be reviewed or not. Frequency of publications, you know, the BJUI is published
twice a month, which, you know, may influence that you want things to be published more soon.
We’ve been through that I think.
The questions you want to ask before writing is really what do you want to say? What’s your
message? Is it worth saying, I mean, has it been said before and you’re just repeating it again?
What is the right format? You know, you need to know how you’re going to present it, I think
that’s been discussed already with the IMRAD classification. Who’s the audience? We’ve
discussed that as well. What is the right journal? As well that’s been discussed. So once you get
right, and once you’ve decide on all that, you start to write the article, and how to begin? That’s
very difficult. Different people will advise you to write differently. Some people will say, start with
the introduction, some people say start with the results, I think, whatever you’re flexible with that’s
where you want to begin. When to begin? I normally, you know, if you’re writing a Case Report,
then it’s probably quicker to write than you writing, you know, your Research Publication, which
you may need to, you know, may take up to three months to write. What to include? That’s also
been discussed before in the IMRAD criteria. And who to include is very important; that’s been
stressed before, to stress the authors. Especially, if you’re doing multinational trials and multi-
centre trials, then there will be conflicts of who wants to be first author, who is last author, who is
in the middle and you really need to sort that out at the beginning. Don’t wait until you’ve written
the paper, done all the work and then you have all the conflicts. Referencing your paper, I use
reference manager. Endnote is another thing you can use. And a lot of the institutions will have
copies, so you can actually use it, but it is very useful, because I think in the past, where you
have to do, you know, five or ten references and every time, you change your paper, if you don’t
have reference manager, you have to go change the order of the references. The reference
manager does all that for you, so it’s very useful to have that.
Once you’ve sent the paper, sorry, before you send the paper, you may want to correct it, so you
give it to your supervisor or your other colleagues and who actually read it, they correct and they
come back to you, you may have to go through seven revisions or eight revisions before it’s
actually sent. And you need to correct, you know, the grammar, the English, the punctuation;
there are a lot of things that need to be corrected. Once you send the article, you need to know
where you’re going to send your article, how to send it. In the past, you know, it was all going to
be printed and you have to have everything by mail or by fax, now everything is electronic and
you can send it online. What do you want to send with it? There you need to send it with a
copyright - the copyright, the declaration, the conflicts of interest, you need to know all these
before you send the paper, because it could easily get rejected because you haven’t sent all the
relevant documents and signatures.
Waiting for a reply may take time. It’s best to correct as per the reviewer instructions; however,
sometimes, you may not be happy with the reviewer instructions and there’s no reason why you
can’t write back and say this is the reason why we think it should be done this way, but you know
we agree with your comments, but you know, I think we can, you know, just send it to them and
see what their reply looks like because if they don’t like your answer, they would reply back and
say, no we want it this way. And if it is rejected don’t be put off, you know if it is rejected send it
somewhere else. But at least use the comments that you have from the reviewers to correct
your article so that if you send it anywhere else, then it has a better chance of being accepted.
Some of the mistakes really that, you know, I have come across during the time I have been
writing is you’re not sticking to the word count, you know they say 3000 words, stick to 3000
words. There are ways of reducing the words count such as quitting the hyphens which mean the
words day time, rather than writing day and time, you can put the hyphen between day-time.
References, make sure you have the correct number of references that are written in the correct
order. Use figures tables and pictures, see whether they want it in black and white or in colours,
make sure of that because in some journals, they will charge if you want coloured figures. So be
sure that you’re doing the right thing and the title page has been covered already. Check the
spelling and the grammar very important, make sure whether it is American or English and make
sure you adjust that one on your word document and make sure you get the permissions and the
So that with some tips you just have to plan. You need to plan, plan and plan because if you don’t
plan it, it will go into pieces and you need time for it, be patient and realistic, you know, ask your
colleagues who have previously published, how to publish a paper, what to write on? Read the
previous papers on the topic; obtain all the necessary signatures that you need to. Attend
courses and workshops like this, other workshops and courses that are useful are ECDL which is
European Computer Driving License, it gives you how to write; you know, use Power Point, use
Word, use all these documents. It is quite useful to get on to it. And statistics courses because
then you can, you know, liaise with the statistician and work on the stats yourself if it’s taking time
on the statistician. And anticipate any hurdles and most important of all really enjoy it. And, I
mean, in five years doing two years of research and, you know, three years of SpR training, you
know, you would expect to get, you know, quite a few, if you are actually enjoying it and having
fun. So, in conclusion really develop your own writing style because writing is an art, you need to
practice and you need to practice it.
And I will leave you with these words of wisdom; necessity is the mother of invention. At the time
I was applying for my SpR, you have to have SpR numbers, you have to have papers, because,
you know, everyone was judged by how many papers they have had and what they have
published. So, you know, you need to invent and write papers and it truly starts with a single
step. Beggars can’t be choosers. Initially whatever paper you get asked to write, just write it but I
think the more you write papers then you can be the chooser and the journals will be the beggars
and they’ll be asking you to write papers; and practice makes perfect. Thank you very much.
Thanks very much Hashim, I think that just hit the spot very well, very beautifully and I think it’s
exactly what I hoped to say, I chose, but it really does take a lot of preparation, that’s not a simple
thing and believe me nobody finds it an easy thing. So there is no question about that. Two
points, anonymity, anonymous review is tried by some journals but it has been shown that
actually it really doesn’t make any particular difference. Yeah, challenging the reviewers is an
interesting one, because that’s a risky business, it’s like, if, you know, you guess a sentence and
you appeal the sentence, the chances are that they will double the sentence if they find that you
are still guilty. And so it is quite likely that if you do take on the reviewer and they feel, well, hey
they will just say reject your paper. But I take your point and I actually agree with it but you have
to be absolutely sure.
Because you know you don’t know who the reviewer is and so you find yourself, I can tell you that
the reviewers for the BJUI are top in their field. Questions for Hashim, for anybody yeah, let me
come right around to you, and stand and identify yourself.
Thank you, my name is (Name UNCLEAR 14:50). Two questions, firstly what is, sort of, the
timeframe between submission of articles, roughly, to time of publication if everything goes right
and you’re among the 20% that get accepted and secondly most, sort of trainees or clinicians
aren’t very good at statistics so we have to rely on different group of people, medical statisticians,
what sort of , I mean, the reliability of information that they give back to us, how do we verify that?
Obviously that’s a variable. We try to keep that and we try to keep it as short as we possibly can
and one of the things that I really try and ensure is that we get the reviewers, the reviewers get
sent messages every so often to remind them to send in their reviews. And if they haven’t sent it
in by a particular time, either I will review it myself or I will get one of the Associate Editors or we
will get somebody else to do it who we know will do the reviewing very quickly. So we have lots
of way of trying to get the answer. If you send in a paper it’s reasonable to get an answer back of
some sort within 21 days and I think we are as good as any other journal with that. Once the
paper is accepted it should appear online in its corrected version assuming that you’ve sent back
the corrections in about six weeks, okay.
Statistics, yes you are dependent on the statistician in your institution; yes you may have never
spoken to him or her before, yes it can be a risky business. If you look at some of the studies that
appear, say in the New England Journal of Medicine, there’ll be half a page of statistical methods
in the thing, they demand that this is that you tell us what they are. And we haven’t done that but
most people are beginning to send in the methods, so they have to get statistical advise from
that. How do we verify them? We’ve got two statisticians who review for us, who are paid to do
this and if there is any questions raised by me, the Associate Editor or any of the Reviewers it
gets sent off to them and they will review it. Any other question? Yep.
(Name UNCLEAR 17:21)Just regards the type of paper, do you give a percentage for the type of
basic science papers you accept and the clinical papers that you accept or you don’t differentiate
between the two?
No, the answer is no, we do not decide on whether a paper will be accepted or not, depending on
whatever its topic. It just so happens that if you look at the various sections, Urological Oncology
and Investigative Urology are the two best supported, following that is the Laparoscopic and
Lower Urinary Tract, and Sexual Medicine after that and then finally the Paediatric and
Reconstruction and the Upper Urinary Tract, they are the two lowest, understandably I guess.
Yeah, (UNCLEAR 18:23) and then you come out yourself, yeah.
I just want to challenge Hashim a little bit about the beggars can’t be choosers comment, one of
the issues that I come across time and time again is trainees coming along when you are doing
an educational contract with them and they have a project that has been festering away for a
couple of years but this was to completed and then write up it’s part of what they are supposed to
do and the big problem was that their boss had this brain storm, told them to go away and do this
project and they have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to sort it out and they are not in a
position to do it, and I think what people really need to do is to get some advise locally about
whether the project is doable before they spend a vast amount of energy trying to do something
that they can’t deliver on, your comment?
And I agree with you, I mean I think for a project, if you have to take it one at a time, in terms of, I
am talking still more in terms of Review Articles or you know if you are working for a Professor of
Urology who gets invited to write a lot of Review Articles, then I think that’s a good place to start.
And you know, don’t say no, I can’t do it because I don’t have time, you just have to find the time
and I mean personally speaking, you have to take time away from your family, you have to work
on weekends, you have to work in the evenings and that’s how you’ll get the papers or even
between cases, if you’re operating, between cases. I think you’ll have to find the time to write it if
you are starting in the beginning but I think once you have reached the stage where you’re
publishing a lot of papers then you can be pickiest to what you will be writing but in terms of
projects, it’s very difficult to do more than one project at a time, especially if it’s a clinical trial.
I am (Name UNCLEAR 19:55) from Freeman hospital, in Newcastle, I was wondering if I could
get some insight from Professor Fitzpatrick regarding Review Articles because I see they are
slightly different kettle of fish, to start with Research Article, though an invited Review Article is
one thing but you are allured to it before writing to the Editor to get permission to submit the
Review Articles. What kind of things would you be looking for to accept Review Articles, it’s not
going to be original then there, you’re reviewing someone else’s work.
No, I agree, don’t forget, let’s say you’re doing a laboratory research project and let us say for
example it’s on apoptosis in prostate cancer and you’re specifically looking at some drug that
induces it. Well, then I think the Review Article that you would select would be the generality. In
other words, in some ways the discussion in your thesis would be thing that you would look at,
something that would encompass the general reading that you’ve been doing, to backup your
work. That’s the sort of thing that will be a good Review Article, for example, people who work
with us in the laboratory, we always encourage them before they actually publish their work on
their thesis to publish a Review Article if they can first.
Does the experience or notoriety of the reviewer come into it?
The experience or?
The famousness or the notoriety of the reviewer come into your choice, in terms of, if someone is
submitting a Review Article which you expect that person to be well known within that field, one of
the authors to be well known within that field?
No, I think notoriety is an interesting word to use, and I think probably.
I said I (UNCLEAR 21:48).
Yeah, oh! I know you do. Actually no, it’s slightly different here, we would, that’s the new review
section I was talking about yes, although that famous, notorious person may certainly decide well
I’ll get one of my juniors guys to write this and that’s fine.