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3 takeaways about Writing and Publishing from Academic Medicine

Nov 04, 2013

 

For almost 90 years—and through four name changes—Academic Medicine has been a forum of information and exchange for administrators and faculty of academic medical centers in the United States and abroad. In their session titled “The Art of Writing and Getting Published,” David P. Sklar, editor-in-chief, Jennifer Campi, senior staff editor, and Mary Beth DeVilbiss, managing editor share tips to increase your chances of getting published in the journal

Here are three takeaways:

Titles and abstracts matter. Most readers come to a particular article through an indexing service, which searches the words in titles and abstracts in order to produce a list of articles it “thinks” will be relevant to the searcher.

According to Academic Medicine’s editors, titles should represent the article, avoid acronyms, include key words and use language economy. In other words, no verbal diarrhea. Titles should also have an appropriate tone and be interesting.

The same rules go for abstracts. The editors’ presentation suggested that abstracts should focus on key ideas that give readers an adequate sense for what the article is about. For research articles, that means structuring abstracts to include the year the study was done, the number of participants and the institutions at which the study was performed. They should also summarize research methods, findings, and key limitations.

Abstracts for conceptual articles don’t need a complicated structure, but should clearly communicate main ideas and have lots of good key words, for searchability’s sake.

Academic Medicine is serious about author ethics. This shouldn’t be surprising. When I was in graduate school, students used to complain about professors who would make token contributions ­– or not – to student papers and demand authorship privileges. Academic Medicine suggests that in order to be considered article authors, individuals need to meet certain criteria:

  • Provide considerable contributions to article conception and design, acquiring data or data analysis
  • Play a significant role in drafting or editing the article
  • Have a stake in approving the article before publication

Obviously, the editors are concerned with academic integrity, which includes the shouldn’t-even-have-to-mention-it practice of plagiarism. But they also talked about a practice known as “salami-slicing.” Salami-slicing is essentially where authors attempt to repeatedly publish the same research by repackaging it or by releasing it in slices. Authors who plan to submit their work to Academic Medicine are much better off sending the whole salami.

Academic Medicine’s website has a “For Authors” page that very clearly describes the submission and review process for every article it publishes. Some 2,000 articles or other pieces of content are sent each year, and editor-in-chief Sklar reads each one.

(As an aside, all three editors agreed that authors who get feedback and recommendations as a result of the review process are very likely to get their articles published if they follow the recommendations and resubmit.)

The For Authors page also includes a FAQ section, reference guide, and a lot of other helpful pieces you can explore. Suffice it to say, taking a look at the available resources is worth your time.