Have you ever dreamed of seeing your name in print? Our intrepid editorialist provides guidance on preparing a clinical manuscript for publication.
For almost 10 years, I have had the privilege of teaching an online medical writing course for two health science universities. The premise is that health professionals must be able to present their work clearly and proficiently. Excellent educational material and important research data, however, are sometimes buried in poorly written papers.The truth is, writing a good medical paper is a complex task. It requires inspired energy, quiet reflection, and yes, time in which to do it. Now that I’ve lost most of you (ha ha) ….
7. Submit your article to your chosen journal—and be prepared to wait! Compose a cover letter indicating why you chose this particular journal and confirming that you have not submitted the manuscript elsewhere (which is considered a conflict) and that your work is original. Then get ready to wait, because the review process takes time. First, there will likely be an in-house editorial review to determine whether the manuscript meets the publication’s needs. If it passes this first “test,” it will be sent (blinded) to two or three peer reviewers who will provide detailed feedback on the clinical validity and relevance of the topic and your presentation of it. Finally, the editor will review that feedback to determine whether the article will be accepted outright (which is rare), accepted pending revision, or rejected.
8. Deal with rejection. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Review the feedback you receive and consider how you could rewrite the article or even approach the topic differently, hopefully with a more positive outcome. And if you mange to skip step 8—all the better! Bravo!
I hope this editorial has been a helpful introduction to the wonders of writing. There are great resources out there, including a text by Furman and Kinn4 that I encourage you to aquire.
Writing will always be hard work—but if you stick to it, it will be a rewarding and essential part of your professional life. I would love to hear your experiences in writing (both good and bad). Direct your responses to me at [email protected].
1. Richardson L. Writing: a method of inquiry. In: Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds). Handbook of Qualitative Research. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 2000;923-948.
3. Welch HG, Froehlich GW. Perspectives: strategies in writing for a physician audience. JGIM. 1996;11:50-55.
4. Furman R, Kinn JT. Practical Tips for Publishing Scholarly Articles: Writing and Publishing in the Helping Professions. 2nd ed. Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books, Inc; 2012.