Getting published in peer-reviewed journals

Abstract

Writing a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal is a rewarding experience but a very difficult undertaking that requires years of experience, determination and patience. The exponential rise of knowledge has resulted in the exponential rise of manuscripts submitted for publication in the various peer-reviewed journals all over the world. Potential authors are not only having to write high-quality papers to get published, but also have to compete with other authors for the limited journal space available to publish their papers. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the ways of making the task of getting published in peer-reviewed journals easier to achieve.

Writing a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal is a rewarding experience. Even though there are no direct financial incentives for publishing in peer-reviewed journals, thousands of manuscripts are produced each year which compete for the limited journal space available worldwide. In other words, there is a sense of pride and achievement behind every published journal article that has its own rewards for which money plays no role. Getting published in a peer-reviewed journal is a difficult undertaking so the aim of this article is to highlight some of the ways of making the task easier to achieve.

So why publish?

Journals first appeared in the late 17th century in an effort to convey fragments of ideas that could be added to what was already known. According to Warsh , journal articles may be used to announce new discoveries, to comment on or criticise the discoveries of others, and to synthesise and seek to build consensus about what is known. Having mentioned the reasons for publishing, we also need to understand the motivation behind the desire to publish. Writing papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals may form part of the essential training requirements for postgraduate students, in particular those who are undertaking a higher degree. In the academic world, publishing is an essential means of furthering one’s career aspirations, particularly for those seeking promotions. Publishing may also be used as a means of attracting departmental funding, or at least help attract outside interest to a department’s research or clinical activities. Finally, and not uncommonly, we all have the urge to see our name in print.

What to publish?

According to L au & S amman , about 30% of articles published in the oral and maxillofacial (OMF) surgery literature were either case reports or technical notes. About half the articles published in OMF surgery journals were classified as non-evidence-based literature. As far as evidence-based medicine is concerned, the vast majority of published evidence-based practice in OMF surgery were retrospective case series (Level 5 evidence) while only 10% of articles published were either randomised controlled (Level 2 evidence) or non-randomised controlled (Level 3 evidence) studies .

The problem with surgical trials is that it is generally difficult to persuade patients to undergo a new surgical procedure based on a hypothesis or animal study. When it comes to randomised clinical trials, it is virtually impossible to undertake sham operations to prove whether the procedure in question is more effective than a placebo response. Furthermore, feasibility and compliance with random allocations of various study groups in surgery is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, unlike physicians, surgeons generally see little need for randomised controlled studies and are often willing to accept weaker evidence .

Despite the weaker evidence found in many of the surgical publications, case reports and technical notes are still popular. However, there is a push by the more respected surgical journals to attract more research papers with surgical implications. The type of manuscript produced will depend on the activities of a department, and the head of department is largely responsible for directing the quality and quantity of publishable material. The level of evidence ( Table 1 ) produced in the output of manuscripts will depend on whether the department has the resources to employ research staff in addition to clinical staff. It is very unlikely, for example, to extract any high-level research from a surgical department that depends on surgical trainees for publications.

Table 1
Hierarchy of levels of evidence.
1. Randomised clinical trials
a. Multicentre
b. Single centre
2. Cohort clinical study
a. Large case series
b. Meta-analysis of multiple case series
3. Animal study
4. Laboratory study
5. Comprehensive review
6. Case report
7. Technical note
8. Personal opinion – letter to editor

What to publish?

According to L au & S amman , about 30% of articles published in the oral and maxillofacial (OMF) surgery literature were either case reports or technical notes. About half the articles published in OMF surgery journals were classified as non-evidence-based literature. As far as evidence-based medicine is concerned, the vast majority of published evidence-based practice in OMF surgery were retrospective case series (Level 5 evidence) while only 10% of articles published were either randomised controlled (Level 2 evidence) or non-randomised controlled (Level 3 evidence) studies .

The problem with surgical trials is that it is generally difficult to persuade patients to undergo a new surgical procedure based on a hypothesis or animal study. When it comes to randomised clinical trials, it is virtually impossible to undertake sham operations to prove whether the procedure in question is more effective than a placebo response. Furthermore, feasibility and compliance with random allocations of various study groups in surgery is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, unlike physicians, surgeons generally see little need for randomised controlled studies and are often willing to accept weaker evidence .

Despite the weaker evidence found in many of the surgical publications, case reports and technical notes are still popular. However, there is a push by the more respected surgical journals to attract more research papers with surgical implications. The type of manuscript produced will depend on the activities of a department, and the head of department is largely responsible for directing the quality and quantity of publishable material. The level of evidence ( Table 1 ) produced in the output of manuscripts will depend on whether the department has the resources to employ research staff in addition to clinical staff. It is very unlikely, for example, to extract any high-level research from a surgical department that depends on surgical trainees for publications.

Table 1
Hierarchy of levels of evidence.
1. Randomised clinical trials
a. Multicentre
b. Single centre
2. Cohort clinical study
a. Large case series
b. Meta-analysis of multiple case series
3. Animal study
4. Laboratory study
5. Comprehensive review
6. Case report
7. Technical note
8. Personal opinion – letter to editor

Where to publish?

There are three main vehicles for publishing clinical ideas: magazines, journals and books. As far as magazines are concerned, articles are accepted more for their entertainment value rather than as a true scientific publication and often there may be commercial interests backing the ‘clinical opinion’ of the author who may be paid by the magazine to write the article. Peer review journals are, by their very nature, publications that critically analyse all contributions and accept only those articles which fulfil the requirements of objective proof and sound results that are measurable and repeatable by others.

Academic book publishers, on the other hand, are more likely to favour authors with a track record of previous successful publications and are unlikely to attract unknown authors unless they are closely supported by well known ‘celebrity’ authors. Therefore, books are less inclined to report new ideas and focus mainly on packaging current knowledge in one or more easy-to-read volumes. Many years of hard work goes into preparing a book with much of the information contained in the book at risk of becoming out of date by the time the book is released. Therefore, the most practical and respectable way to convey new information to professional colleagues is through peer-reviewed journals.

Only gold members can continue reading. Log In or Register to continue

Jan 27, 2018 | Posted by in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery | Comments Off on Getting published in peer-reviewed journals
Premium Wordpress Themes by UFO Themes