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Academic Journals and Health Care Transformation


David P. Sklar, M.D., is editor-in-chief of Academic MedicineListen as he explains the role of an academic journal in health care transformation and shares insights on how writers and researchers can improve their likelihood of getting published.

Announcer: Asking questions. Seeking perspectives. Searching for answers. Algorithms for Innovation live from Philadelphia at the AAMC 2013.

Sklar: My name is David Sklar. I'm editor in chief for Academic Medicine which is the journal sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Lovell: And I'm Aaron Lovell from the University of Utah, Marketing Manager for Health Sciences. How can academic enterprise impact healthcare transformation and what do you feel is the role of an editor of an academic journal or the academic journal itself in that transformation?

Sklar: Well, a journal really has a lot of purposes and one of them is to provide a forum for conversations about difficult issues. And we have a lot of difficult issues in academic medicine. One of them is that we recognize that the cost of medical care is too high in our country and the quality unfortunately is not as high as it should be. So being able to reduce the amount of money that we spend on healthcare while either maintaining or improving the quality of care is extremely important.

All of that is part of the business of academic medical centers because we train the future doctors and so we have the opportunity to influence our future physicians as well as the patients that they will take care of. So as a journal what we're trying to do is provide that opportunity for our various communities whether they be the students, the educators of the students, the residents, the faculty, the administrators of the hospitals to be able to write and communicate about how they're addressing these problems. We do this through articles that they submit to our journal.

We also actually have a blog that they can comment in but the overall goal is to provide that form essentially for those conversations to occur. We don't know that we're going to actually solve the problems in the journal but we may be able to come up with some really interesting ideas that one of our readers will use to solve a problem at his or her institution.

Another goal of our journal is that we're also a place where people who are doing research in medical education in particular can have their research published and that allows them to get recognized, it allows them to get promoted. We are also able to bring up issues that we see may become important in the future. We're also able to influence policy makers. So the journal in addition to having the ability to actually provide new information, can also provide the impetus for people to have conversations in real-time at a conference.

Lovell: And for writers that are putting together articles or researchers that are doing research about these kinds of issues that you're talking about, for them to be published in academic medicine, there's a specific process that they need to go through in terms of submitting that article.

Sklar: Well, I think it's very helpful for anybody who's thinking of submitting to our journal to at least read a few issues of the journal so they get a sense as to what our style is, what kinds of articles we're interested in. Beyond that I think it's really very helpful that if a person is thinking of submitting to the journal that they're really excited and passionate about the topic.

It doesn't necessarily have to be what we call a research article. There are several different kinds of articles. Some of them are more opinion pieces which we call perspectives and some of them are more research oriented but all of those can be effective and could influence the way we think about things, the options we have.

For students we actually have several opportunities for a student who maybe hasn't done research but wants to give us some information about how they have been influenced during their education, how that particular experience has affected them and their approach perhaps in the future, of how they might do things differently because of that experience.

So there are many ways that someone could be published in the journal and I would encourage folks to look at the journal and then consider submitting in one of those categories.

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