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Writing a manuscript for a peer-reviewed medical journal


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Writing a manuscript for a peer-reviewed medical journal

  1. 1. Writing a manuscriptfor publication in apeer-reviewed journalChristopher LeonardEditorial Director - QScience.comSunday, 9 June 13
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  3. 3. What was a journal?Journal des sçavans & Philosophical Transactionsof the Royal Society both started in 1665Late 1800’s see the emergence of ‘theory-experiment-discussion’ structure of articles1980’s see IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Resultsand Discussion) adopted widely as a reflection ofthe process of scientific discoveryPrint only, limited readership, limited number oftitlesSunday, 9 June 13
  4. 4. What is a journal?Electronic-only, or e-leading, peer-reviewedselection of articles judged to be of a certainquality within a certain, narrow, field.Many papers publicly available via open access orPubMed>20,000 active journal titles>5,500 papers per day published (2m/year)How to stand out in this crowd?Sunday, 9 June 13
  5. 5. Anatomy of a paperModern papers conform to the UniformRequirements for Manuscripts submitted toBiomedical Journals it.Doesn’t cover all article types, or other integralparts of a successful submission (cover letter,abstract, figures, tables, acknowledgements) butgives a good indication for main textSunday, 9 June 13
  6. 6. Trial reporting standardsTransparent reporting of medical trials is essential.CONSORT (1996, 2001, 2007, 2010) of trials is dependent on theirregistration before enrolling first participantANZCTR,,,, EudraCT, WHO-ICTRP. See ICMJE website for full details.Sunday, 9 June 13
  7. 7. Strengtheningepidemiology studiesObservations, cohort studies, case-control, cross-sectional studies.Very valuable, but have a history of being weak orpoorly-describedEnter STROBE http://www.strobe-statement.orgFor articles and conference proceedingsSunday, 9 June 13
  8. 8. Review articlesComprehensively cover a specific biomedical topicand require the author to review all relevantliterature and come up with some generalstatements and conclusions about the practicalimplications for patient care.Most often they are commissioned, but if you wantto write one, it is worth approaching an editor witha proposal.Highly accessed, highly cited.Sunday, 9 June 13
  9. 9. Review articlesNARRATIVE REVIEWSEditorialsCommentariesNarrative overviews or non-systematic narrative reviewsQUALITATIVE SYSTEMATIC REVIEWSQUANTITATIVE SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS(META ANALYSES)Sunday, 9 June 13
  10. 10. EditorialsWritten by Editor or invited guestMay be narrative reviews, but on a short, selectand narrowly focused review on a handful ofpapersMay not be reviews at allSunday, 9 June 13
  11. 11. CommentariesCommentaries may be narrative reviews, butsomewhat more opinionated.Little research methodology, biased synthesis of acollection of articles.Usually there to provoke controversy or academicdebate.Sunday, 9 June 13
  12. 12. Narrative reviewsTypically comprehensive narrative synthesis ofpreviously published information, oftensummarising each key article.Bibliographic research methodology frequently apart of narrative reviews (although is not strictlyrequired). Reputable sources only.Will provide in-depth snapshot of a field, convey aclear message and draw conclusions supportedby data analysis.Sunday, 9 June 13
  13. 13. Reputable sourcesMedline/PubMedExcerpta Medica/EMBASEScopusWeb of ScienceCochrane LibraryDatabase of Abstracts and Reviews of EffectivenessCumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health LiteratureGoogle Scholar (with care)Sunday, 9 June 13
  14. 14. Qualitative systematicreviewsDetailed, rigorous, explicit methods. Bibliographicresearch based on a specific topic or question.More powerful evidence-based source thannarrative reviews, case studies, cohort studies...Qualitative: individual studies are integrated andcritiqued for their systematic methods. However,no statistical combination of studies.Sunday, 9 June 13
  15. 15. Quantitative systematicreviews or meta-analysesCritically evaluates each paper in the review andstatistically combines the results of the studies.Qualitative + gathers original patient data fromeach study, pools it together and producesstatistics on the larger sample.Highest level of evidenceGuidelines in PRISMA and Cochrane CollaborationSunday, 9 June 13
  16. 16. Preparing to write themanuscriptSunday, 9 June 13
  17. 17. Background informationBibliographic research to set research question incontext.Make sure it is up-to-date (consider revising if firstdraft is more than 3 months old) - reviewers getvery suspicious about missing citations.Papers over 10 years old, use with caution.Sunday, 9 June 13
  18. 18. Target journalThink about this before you start to write.Best journal for your article may not necessarily bebest in the field.Has similar work been published in that journal?Check the I4AsTyranny of the Impact Factor.Sunday, 9 June 13
  19. 19. CHRONICA HORTICULTURAE VOL.48 NO.2 2008 PP.3-4Sunday, 9 June 13
  20. 20. CHRONICA HORTICULTURAE VOL.48 NO.2 2008 PP.3-4Sunday, 9 June 13
  21. 21. AuthorshipSort this out before writing the manuscript*.Consult with coauthors, gather their ORCIDs.Otherwise, preferred name listing and affiliation.ICMJE have guidelines on this.Usually listed in decreasing order of theircontribution (although this can vary)Determine who is the corresponding author* READ THIS: Liz Wager’s excellent guide “Recognition, reward and repsonsibility: why theauthorship of scientific papers matters” Maturitas 2009; 62:109-12Sunday, 9 June 13
  22. 22. Ethical issuesFabrication of dataDuplicate publicationPlagiarismMisuse of statisticsManipulation of imagesInadequate or false citationsREAD THIS: HTTP://PUBLICATIONETHICS.ORG/ MAINLY FOR EDITORS ANDPUBLISHERS, BUT GIVES A GREAT INSIGHT INTO PROBLEMS SOME PAPERS FACESunday, 9 June 13
  23. 23. Writing the manuscriptSunday, 9 June 13
  24. 24. TitleTitle is THE most important part of the paper.Decide on best title after writing the manuscript.CONSORT, STROBE and others have clearindications on what should be in the title.Should be descriptive, not cute, and match theabstract. Not too general, not too much jargon.Sunday, 9 June 13
  25. 25. Examples GOOD TITLEA study of thrombocytopenia in hospitalizedvivax malaria patientsBAD TITLESPhysics of wavesTransgressing the Boundaries: Towards aTransformative Hermeneutics of QuantumGravityRead more about this at, 9 June 13
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  27. 27. AbstractIn Medline/PubMed/Scopus/Google Scholar.Think of it as a ‘teaser’ or ‘trailer’ for your paper.DON’T make it too long. Shorter is ALWAYS betterDON’T introduce and define lots of acronymsDON’T include references to citationsDO pitch it to non-specialists in your broader fieldDO write (or rewrite) it at THE END.Sunday, 9 June 13
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  30. 30. AbstractContextQuestion or purposeMethodology/ResultsInterpretationConclusionsSunday, 9 June 13
  31. 31. AbstractContextQuestion or purposeMethodology/ResultsInterpretationConclusionsALL IN 250 WORDS OR LESSSunday, 9 June 13
  32. 32. Passage from the Wikipedia article on "The English Language"The following paragraph has a Gunning Fog Index of 24.4.As a result of the military, economic, scientific, political, and culturalinfluence of the United Kingdom from the 18th century, and of the UnitedStates since the mid 20th century, it has become the lingua franca in manyparts of the world, and the most prominent language in internationalbusiness and science. It is used extensively as a second language and asan official language in the European Union and many Commonwealthcountries, as well as many international organisations.Analysis■ There are 79 words in two sentences.■ The 17 italic words are considered complex.■ 0.4 ((79/2) + 100(17/79))■ 0.4 x ( 39.5 + 12.79)■ Fog index = 24.4Sunday, 9 June 13
  33. 33. The same passage simplifiedThe following paragraph has a Gunning Fog Index of 7.07.English has become the standard language around the world. This wasthe result of many factors. In the 1700s, the British affected Englishwith the army, economy, science, politics and culture. In the mid-1900s,the United States caused change. It is the most used language in worldbusiness and science. It is a famous second language and an officiallanguage in most of Europe and in Commonwealth countries. It is alsothe case in groups around the world.Analysis■ There are 79 words in seven sentences.■ The 5 italic words are considered complex.■ 0.4 ((79/7) + 100(5/79))■ 0.4 x ( 11.28 + 2.5)■ Fog index = 7.07Sunday, 9 June 13
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  35. 35. IntroductionIntroduce topic to readers in an accessible wayShould be short and focusedAim for 3 paragraphs only.PARA1: Question or issue, context, relevance [What is known]PARA2: Importance of problem/unclear issues [What is unknown]PARA3: Rationale, hypothesis, main objective [Why study was done]Can be written at any point, but good to revisit atthe end.Sunday, 9 June 13
  36. 36. Materials and methodsDetails required to replicate the studyVery precise guidelines from CONSORT, STROBEand PRISMAShould include; study design, data collectiondetails, analysis principles and rationale.Describe sample selection and exclusion criteriaEthical considerations and a description of therandomization or group assignment.Sunday, 9 June 13
  37. 37. ResultsOrganised presentation of collected data.Measurements described in M&M section shouldbe reported in Results in same order.Should be a distant semantic description.Include negative results and reasons for non-collection of information on important non-measured variablesOConnor, T. R., & Holmquist, G. P. (2009). Algorithm for writing ascientific manuscript. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education,37(6), 344-348. doi:10.1002/bmb.20329Sunday, 9 June 13
  38. 38. DiscussionExplain the meaning of the results, structured as anatural flow of ideas.Key findings should be linked to study objectives,along with an acknowledgement of the strengthsand weaknesses of the studyDescribe logically, links between results andmechanistic interpretations of cause and effect.Are results consistent with other studies? If not,why not?Sunday, 9 June 13
  39. 39. DiscussionDon’t repeat yourself.Don’t present results not mentioned in ResultsDon’t overstate importance of resultsDo feel free to criticise study limitationsDon’t repeat yourself.Sunday, 9 June 13
  40. 40. ConclusionIt’s not another Abstract or Introduction.Keep it short‘Take home’ messageDo not write: ‘further study is needed’ or anyvariation thereof.Sunday, 9 June 13
  41. 41. Acknowledgements etc.Contributors who do not qualify for author statusConflicts of interestFinancial support for the researchGroup name if appropriateAuthor contributionsSunday, 9 June 13
  42. 42. ReferencesKeep a good reference library (Mendeley/Zotero)Make sure references adhere to journal styleAvoid abstracts and ‘personal communications’Exclude articles ‘in submission’Authors responsibility to make sure they do notrefer to retracted articles.Sunday, 9 June 13
  43. 43. After submissionSunday, 9 June 13
  44. 44. Reviews & revisionsView peer reviewers as collaborators rather thanenemiesThey often make constructive remarks whichshould improve the quality of the paperGood editors will shield you from performing moreexperiments (unless it’s Nature or Science)For each point the reviewer makes, provide a briefnote explaining how you have incorporated theirremark, or a rebuttal.Sunday, 9 June 13
  45. 45. After publicationSunday, 9 June 13
  46. 46. PromotionYou are the marketer of your own work (usually)Link to your article from your facebook/twitter/linkedin/orcid pageDepartmental website, institution PR department?Mendeley, scribd, list-servs, other discussionboards and listsSunday, 9 June 13
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  50. 50. A brief note onopen accessSunday, 9 June 13
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  57. 57. Thanks. And good luck.Sunday, 9 June 13
  58. 58., 9 June 13