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Doctors at Work Podcast.

Episode #47

How to get your paper published. With Kieran Walsh

Mat Daniel

23/11/2023

When you have done a great project you want to share it with the world, so that others can benefit from your experience and findings. Plus it helps you progress your career too. But how do you get a paper published? In this episode, Kieran Walsh takes us through the journey of a project from inception to publication, and he shares his views on how to get published. Top tip is to start with the end in mind.

Dr Kieran Walsh is Clinical Director at BMJ. He is the clinical lead of the medical education and clinical decision support resources at BMJ. He has a vast amount of experience in online medical education, clinical decision support, face-to-face delivery of medical education, and both summative and formative assessment. He has experience of using all of these in programmes to strengthen health systems. He is Adjunct Associate Professor in Teaching and Research at Monash University. He has published over 200 papers in the biomedical literature and has written four books on medical education. Competing interests: KW works for BMJ.

Further resources
BMJ Best Practice
https://bestpractice.bmj.com/info/
Equator network
https://www.equator-network.org/
BMJ Research to Publication
https://rtop.bmj.com/
ICMJE
https://www.icmje.org/
BMJ Impact Analytics
https://impactanalytics.bmj.com/

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Mat: Welcome to Doctors at Work. My name’s Mat Daniel, and this podcast is about doctors’ careers. Today we’re talking about how to get your paper published. Now when you’ve done a great project you want to share it with the world so that other people can benefit from your experience and findings. Plus it helps you progress your career too.

But how on earth do you actually get published? In this episode Kieran Walsh takes us through the journey of a project from inception to publication and he shares his views on how you can get published. His top tip is to start with the end in mind. I hope it’s useful.

Welcome Kieran. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

[00:00:51] Kieran: Thanks Mat. And thanks very much for the invitation. It’s great to be here. Kieran Walsh, by name. I’m clinical director at BMJ. I’m a geriatrician turned editor, turned educator. I very much believe in short introductions and I and I actually do podcasts as well. for a BMJ best practice. I’m usually the interviewer, but somehow, you’ve turned the tables on me here. So it’s great to be here and happy to answer questions you might have.

[00:01:22] Mat: Yeah, you’ve got a new experience then. So today we are discussing about how to get a paper published. And maybe let me start by asking, why should you bother to get a paper published?

[00:01:34] Kieran: Thanks, Mat. So lots of potential reasons, all of which are valid reasons. You might have something to say that’s really important. You want to change your, you want to share your work. You might want to change practice in a particular area, or you might want to promote debate or educate. All of which are really valid reasons and it depends on the type of paper and the type of journal that you’re aiming at, but for lots of the big journals, practice change is really important.

What impact will your research or your paper have on actual clinical practice? And that’s one I think to keep high up in your mind.

[00:02:21] Mat: One of the challenges that I sometimes hear, particularly with doctors early in their career, is that their career progression depends On them getting the papers published and I get that, we all want to progress careers.

And I suppose the difficulty there really is knowing how you do something that, that is publishable. So what is it that editors look for when they’re deciding whether to accept a paper or not?

[00:02:46] Kieran: Yeah, you’re quite right, aren’t I? Probably should have said that as number one.

People want to progress their careers as well, which is another really valid reasons too. And ultimately what editors want is a number of different things. They weren’t wanting work that’s original. That’s important, that’s academically rigorous, that’s topical as well, if it can be and it’s easy to say these things, but it’s quite hard to be absolutely original or sometimes to be topical as well.

So you’ve got to think around these things and maybe you could be the first to have done a project in a particular setting or your paper may be topical because of COVID or something like that. After that, I think it comes down to the origin the actual journal that we’re talking about.

Some journals are international. So obviously, they want work that’s relevant to a wide range of readers in lots of different countries. Some journals are generalist and some are super specialist. So once again, it’s a matter of thinking about the target audience. of that journal, the readership of that journal, and whether your paper is relevant to the readers.

[00:04:06] Mat: Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Because I’m guessing that most people will think I’ve written a paper and now I’ll just send it to journal and see who accept it. But you’re, what you’re saying is that, that you need to think right at the beginning about which journal, is likely to be interested in what I’m doing.

Can you tell me a little bit more about that idea?

[00:04:26] Kieran: Yeah absolutely. So there are a number of well-known generalist journals out there, generalist international journals out there. So if your paper would be relevant, not just in the UK, but lots of other countries. And if your paper is relevant to GPs or general physicians in hospitals, or public health physicians, then do think of journals that would cater for that readership.

But then once again, sometimes there’s really super specialist journals and they’re interested in a completely different type of paper. So I would say quite right, think about things. the start. And by the start, I don’t mean just when you’re writing up, but think about that at the start of your project, ideally.

[00:05:18] Mat: And I suppose there are some things that are maybe easier to get published than others, because if you do something that is very, specifically science related to a specific area, there’s going to be, excuse me, there’s going to be a journal. There’s going to be for that, but what about maybe some general stuff like, service improvement or quality improvement projects which you suggest, do those go to a quality improvement journal or do those go to a specialty journal?

What would be your tips?

[00:05:45] Kieran: Yes, so for things like quality improvement projects often they’re difficult to get into the major medical journals but there are a growing number of journals now that accept quality improvement reports and to declare competing interest, BMJ publishes one such journal BMJ Open Quality which is published lots of different types of paper in quality improvement, but a large proportion of the papers in it are exactly that, quality improvement report. So I think you’ve got the best chance with a journal like that. And we occasionally, I work with BMJ best practice, which is our clinical decision support resource and was freely available in in the UK. And sometimes people based on quality improvement project.

on BMJ best practice. And if they do that, let us know and we’d be delighted to, to advise them of how best to do that and how to use such a resource.

[00:06:55] Mat: It’s a slightly strange paradox that when we talk about publishing, people typically think of, I’ve discovered a new molecule or, or there’s a new instrument or there’s some new artificial intelligence.

But the reality is that much of that isn’t necessarily anywhere near as relevant to the frontline clinician is something that is about translating evidence, practical evidence that you can follow and then actually doing something about that. So you mentioned earlier that it’s useful to have something that’s original, but I think it’s quite hard to find an idea where you think, that nobody else has thought.

of that. Have you got some tips or some, have you seen some things that you thought, that’s really original and how somebody listening how can they come up with something that’s really original and different and novel?

[00:07:44] Kieran: Yeah, I think it is hard to be completely original to be the first person to have done something.

So I think it’s a matter of thinking through, maybe you’re the first person to have done a project like this in this country, maybe. Or you’re the first person to have done a project in primary care. of this type when it usually happens within, within, within secondary care. So think about the setting, I think, or maybe this is the first time that this this type of project has been done by generalists.

As opposed to in a super specialist setting. So I think that’s probably the best way to think about that because ultimately what you’re doing is when you do a project and publish the project, you’re building on other work that other people have done. And of course you’ve got to cite their work but you’ve got to also say how your paper adds a little bit to the wider jigsaw of the evidence based puzzle and how it helps to fill it in this particular setting.

[00:09:03] Mat: So it’s then about being familiar with what people are talking about, what exists, what’s already been written and then synthesising that and taking all of that in. and finding out a new angle on something. And I guess if I think for my experience of the stuff that I’ve done, I think some of the best stuff that I’ve done certainly earlier in my career has probably been, has been real.

Real practical challenges that I faced and it was maybe because I went into the workplace And I thought okay. This is a problem. How do we solve that problem? But I went in with my eyes open And then I looked for solutions and then that then became something that was novel and publishable. But the starting point was This is a problem.

What can I do about it? Yeah, but maybe if I go back Let’s imagine somebody who’s finally a medical student Or an f1 and they say, okay, I want to get involved in some projects I want to get my first publication What would be your tick for somebody who’s just at that F one level who says, okay, I want to do something and I want to aim to get the paper out of it.

[00:10:08] Kieran: Yeah. Thanks Mat. So that’s another important question. The question I get asked a lot, and I think if you are just starting off, it’s difficult to have the time to do a really big project. So it might be great to think I’d like to do a double blind randomized. placebo controlled trial or best alternative controlled trial or a meta analysis.

That’ll be 6, 000 words. But you might not have time to do that. You might be in post for a relatively short amount of time. So I think… It’s best to think practically what you can do in the time frame that you have. And starting off, it’s worth thinking of things like case reports, clinical case reports, or back to quality improvement reports.

There’s a growing number of journals, as we were saying, that accept this type of work. And to think about what journal will I start with? Or sometimes it might be a poster. at a national or international meeting. And people say to me do these things count? And the answer is that when you’re starting off, everything counts.

And when it’s your first one, absolutely everything counts. And so I regularly chat to senior and junior and doctors in training as well. And often the senior ones, I’ll ask them, what’s the first publication? And I can promise you they can always remember Their first one, even if it’s 20 or 30 years ago, and they can tell you the journal, the name of the paper, and the year, et cetera, et cetera.

So I think getting the first one under your belt is really important but do you think. What can I do? A case report is not a massive amount of work in terms of writing it up and the actual clinical case and also the discussion of it. Word count is limited. The number of potential references will be fairly small as well.

So I would say start off with things like that.

[00:12:19] Mat: And it’s interesting if I think when maybe students or young doctors come to me and they say, we want to do. Actually, if I know that somebody has already done something small. I would probably be more likely to take them seriously because, okay, this person’s already done something.

They’ve already done a poster. Whereas if somebody has never done anything and they’re trying to do a substantial, substantive piece of work, then I’m thinking, okay, do they know what they’re doing? Do they know what they’re letting themselves in? So I’m probably much more likely.

To help somebody who wants to do something small as a first project rather than somebody who wants to do something big as a first project, probably for all the reasons that you mentioned. I hope you’re enjoying the show. If you are, please click subscribe so you will be notified when new episodes come out.

This podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. You can be part of that mission too, by forwarding this show to any one person who you think might benefit from listening. Thank you. Now on with the show. What kind of mistakes do you think people make?

[00:13:24] Kieran: A Number of different things. First of all, I think that planning is all important and planning before you start and before you start your project and not planning before you start writing up your project. Because planning All too often, people, when they’re writing up, then they’ll look and see what they need to include in the write up and they’ll realize, oh gosh, I wish I knew that six months or 12 months ago when I was starting the project.

So start with the end in in, in mind. And also, I would say another tip is to really read the instructions for authors. A common mistake is that people just simply don’t read the instructions for authors and they’re always there on the journal pages in considerable detail, everything from expected word count for a clinical case report through to the type of references to the type of article that will be accepted.

Read those in considerable detail. There’s lots of resources out there, BMJ, once again, to declare a competing interest, has a resource called BMJ Research to Publication, which is helpful. Also the Equator Network, which is a compendium of reporting guidelines. How to write up different types of paper.

like concert criteria for randomized controlled trials and squire guidelines for quality improvement reports. And I’m constantly surprised sometimes when I talk to doctors or other healthcare professionals in training, and they haven’t heard. of these resources. But once again, if you’re doing a quality improvement project and you’re planning to write it up as a quality improvement report and submit it to a journal, look at the guidelines.

They’re freely available. But look at them before you start and then plan through to the end of your project so that when you get to the end of your project, you’ll be able to take off all the bits and say, yeah, we did all those different things. And as a result, we have a report that will be academically.

as well as practically rigorous and valid and reliable, and therefore much more likely to be accepted. Sorry, that’s a long answer. But I think to sum it up, it’s planning and get prepared at the start.

[00:16:06] Mat: I think this is really important because again, we’re back to the idea of starting with the end in mind.

You’re going to start doing a research project and you need to think where am I going to publish this? What kind of journal’s going to take it? And I think the sad reality is that if you don’t publish, then nobody’s going to know what wonderful research or what wonderful project you’ve done.

So it’s fine if you’ve done something that’s amazing. But if you find yourself without a platform where you can disseminate that, then nobody other than you is going to know about it. And yes, you might have made a difference to your department, which is fine. But if you want to do something that’s going to make a difference on a wider level, the reality is that you need to find a platform.

Where can you disseminate it where other people can access that and that effectively that means publishing it doesn’t it? Yeah, So very early on you said you need to think okay, which journal is this a subspecialty journal? Is this a generic journal? Is this a country specific journal or international?

So you need to think of that and then okay How am I going to write that up? And yeah, I know what you mean about those guidelines Lots of people don’t know that there is a very specific guideline for how you write up the different types of research studies and the reality is that if you follow those writing up guidelines That then it’s easy, isn’t it?

And if you don’t then it’s difficult and it’s particularly easier if right at the beginning you say, okay, Somebody’s going to ask me for my PICO statement somewhere And I might as well try and create that at the beginning and if anybody doesn’t know what one is You’ll be able to find it when you look at those reporting guidelines for a different type of papers on equator and the okay so I guess You know, let’s imagine that somebody’s got an idea and they think that something’s novel And then they say, Okay, now, who do I need to talk to or what kind of colleagues do I need to work with?

Do I need to work in a teaching hospital? Do I need to work in a big department small department? Do I need to try and hook up with a professor or, or a job in clinicians? Because, people probably won’t write a paper in isolation, that paper will exist in the context of a hospital or team, a supervisory team, colleagues.

So how does somebody go about making those kinds of decisions?

[00:18:15] Kieran: Yeah, thanks, Mat. I think as a general principle, you shouldn’t be doing these things on your own in isolation, as you said whether it’s a clinical research project or a quality improvement project or an educational project, you should be doing them as a member of a team with a supervisor who’s experienced.

And like quality improvement is a good example because it’s a team based activity and you’re not really going to have any impact in improving quality just working on your own. But I used to directly answer your question. I think it’s thinking ahead and thinking what type of career do you have in mind for the long term?

Are you planning to be an academic and do research as well as do clinical work, in which case it’s best to think about tertiary care and teaching hospitals and research departments with a good track record of producing papers. That’s if you think about becoming an academic. But as we’ve said from the start, there’s lots of other opportunities to, to get published.

So in, once again, back to quality improvement then that then that Might be with the local quality improvement department as well as with your clinical team and clinical supervisor, or maybe it’s medical education or clinical informatics work that you’re interested in. And once again, then it’s back to the person who’s responsible.

In the Department of Medical Education or Clinical Informatics at your hospital or think about a hospital where you might want to work in the future, where they have a national or international reputation for excellence in these different things. So yes, so I think the context and the department where you do your work and the support that you get is really important.

So it’s worth thinking about these things from the start.

[00:20:31] Mat: What about being a first author versus being a co-author? Because, based on what you said, I’m imagining somebody is going to come in and it’s going to be a big academic department. And they’re going to do a small amount of work on a project and a project that runs three or four, five years.

You’re going to rotate through, recruit some patients, contribute some methodology, and then, you’ll be seventh author out of, 27 versus taking on a project that’s yours, that you’ve thought about, that you’ve carried from the beginning to the end, over a 12 month period or two year period, something like that.

I think they’re quite different things. In, in terms of people’s career. Progression, what, what would be your tips when somebody is making those decisions? Do I join a big team and then one of many co-authors or do I try and do something that is much more self-directed with other people helping me, but then I get a small paper, but I become first author on it.

[00:21:28] Kieran: Yeah. So I think once again, first of all, it’s important to say that when you’re starting off and you don’t have any. Papers and your name isn’t on any paper at all, then it’s good just to get your name on a paper. If you’ve contributed to it and it justifies authorship whether that’s the first author, seventh author or whatever.

Of course, best if you can be, to be to lead on these projects and then to be able to justify being the first author or second author. And I think to specifically answer your question, I think it depends on the type of project that you’ve done. If it’s a clinical research project, then there’ll be lots and lots of people involved.

And there’ll be multiple. people on the paper, and it’s possible you could be first author, but it’s unlikely if you’re, if you are starting off and so it’s acceptable to be in the middle of the authors there but if you’re thinking about quality improvement or medical education or clinical informatics and starting off with a small project then, yeah, you’re much more likely to be able to lead on a project like that and to be able to justify your position as first author.

And there are likely to be fewer authors in papers like that as well. So I think it depends like the answer to lots of questions it depends on what you’re thinking into the long term, whether you want to do clinical academic research or you want to do something more practical related to learning health systems or quality improvement or medical education.

[00:23:07] Mat: And I guess I’m thinking that maybe people should do both. Yeah. Try and get both. Find a small project that you can lead on. With help and join others and be co-author on something that’s a big, five year endeavour where you’ll be one of many authors and that way you learn from being a part of a big team and you contribute and also at the same time you can then apply your learning to your own small project if you are at the beginning of their career.

So I guess the other thing, again, if I think to my own personal experience, I think there’s a if somebody is looking as, foundation doctor, if they’re looking to do research project and looking for who they do that project with, I think I’d say it’s quite important. that they find some senior doctors that have actually published and particularly senior doctors that have published with early career doctors.

Because I think there’ll be lots of senior doctors if they’re producing papers with other senior doctors. And, working at a really high academic level, that, that’s fantastic. But you want to find somebody who’s actually, who has worked and who’s able to work and who’s interested in working with a doctor early on in their career.

Somebody who’s got the skills, but also somebody who’s got the interest in working with a doctor early on in their career. Okay, so let’s imagine you’ve done all of that project, you’ve got some data together, you’re at the stage of putting it all together. What makes a good paper title?

[00:24:36] Kieran: Yes. So to get into the specifics now titles are something really worth thinking about. Why? Because you get an opportunity to make a good first impression on the editor and peer reviewers, who obviously have a key role in deciding whether your paper will get published. So To start off with the basics, often in the instructions for authors, once again, there’ll be instructions about the length of titles the number of words in your title, and obviously stick to that.

Sometimes there’ll be an instruction to state that if it’s a case report, you should say case report in the title. Or if it’s a quality improvement report, you should state explicitly that’s what it is in the title and obviously follow that. After that, different journals have different styles. Some of them encourage a kind of a statement type title.

Others a question mark. Others have more engaging type titles. So then it comes down to reading the journal and seeing the other types of titles that are accepted. And you can’t do enough reading. In, in this world as well to really get to know the journals and the types of papers that they accept and how they’re written up.

And you learn a massive amount from that as well.

[00:26:01] Mat: So something that’s catchy as well as something that, that, that says what it is. Yeah, because I would agree with you. There’s not, there’s nothing worse than looking at the title and thinking, Oh, that looks interesting. And then spending 10 minutes discovering that actually, it is nothing like what the title says.

Then you just walk away being misled, isn’t it? You think, I wasted 10 minutes of my time and yeah, I think that annoys reviewers and editors and readers as well. And then again, linking it back to what does the journal do and how does the journal like to work? Okay. So then normally, after the title, then the abstract and what should go into an abstract?

[00:26:39] Kieran: Yeah, sure. Yeah, your point about the titles, first of all is really all important. The title should be described exactly what you’re going to get when you read the entire paper and therefore you don’t waste people’s time. And whether it’s catchier or not, it depends. I think that depends on the journal.

Sometimes journals are really. Serious and academic in their tone, in which case you want a serious and academic title. But others are different. On to the abstract. So once again, it comes back to instructions for authors, and often the instructions for authors will say that your abstract needs to be structured rather than pretext, and that you need to follow maybe the MRAD, introduction, method, results, discussion structure, or whatever type of structure, but it’s really important to follow that.

They usually be quite restricted word count for the abstract, which might be 200 words to 300 words. You absolutely got to stick with that as well. And once again, it’s an opportunity to make a good first impression, because the abstract may well be the second thing that the editor or peer reviewers read.

And some journals screen. on reading the abstract. If they really like the title and the abstract, they’ll keep going and reading the rest and read the rest of your paper. It’s worthwhile, I think, spending a good bit of time on, on the abstract to get it as good as you can. And often people don’t do that because they’ve spent weeks and months writing up several thousand words.

of their entire paper and they leave the abstract till the end when they’re exhausted and running out of time. And then they just scribble things together, bash it out really quickly and don’t do justice to summarizing all their work. But it’s worthwhile spending time on it and getting it as good as you possibly can.

[00:28:50] Mat: And maybe something that comes even after the abstract for most people is a cover letter. Does the cover letter matter?

[00:28:58] Kieran: Yeah, the cover letter does matter, and it’s one of these things that’s often neglected and sometimes people will leave the space in a manuscript submission system for a cover letter blank if it’s not required, which I think is a missed opportunity.

And it’s an opportunity to promote your work a little bit, not Massively or exaggerate or anything like that, but once again to say that your work maybe is original or important and academically rigorous, and also to read the instructions for authors again, and if the journal says it wants work that it’s important to generalists.

And your work is aimed at journalists to say that in the cover letter and the editor, if nothing else, will be impressed that you at least do read the journal and know the type of papers that that they’re looking for and will likely to be more friendly towards your paper and your ideas as a result.

[00:30:05] Mat: So it’s an opportunity to make it easier for the editor to understand what you’ve done and why that matters and making a clear link between, what the journal does and what the journal wants. And what your paper delivers. Yeah. And I guess another thing that kind of comes right at the end then is you get asked to give examples of peer reviewers.

So how do I make a decision as to who do I put down as a potential reviewer?

[00:30:31] Kieran: Yeah. Sure. In, in terms of Suggesting peer reviewers, you’re right, lots of journals do give the opportunity to suggest peer reviewers, and it’s, and you may well know of people who are experts in this field who would be good peer reviewers, and then it’s just a matter of adding them in, but you shouldn’t suggest people who you’ve worked with or who you know or who might not be in the best position to give an independent review of your work.

So I think that’s probably the advice that I’d give in that regard. I think the cover letter and the abstract, it’s really important for journalists just to return to them as for a second. But also if you’re thinking about submitting an abstract to a conference for a poster or a platform presentation, that’s important too.

Because I regularly look at submissions for conferences as well. And sometimes, despite it being really clear what we’re looking for in poster abstracts or platform abstracts, people ignore that and write something completely different. And which is not relevant to the conference. Or they ignore the…

structured abstract instructions that that we give them and that we want to receive. And as a result of that, it’s very difficult to accept them, uh, as a result. So once again, it comes down to following, reading the instructions and following them. And

[00:32:13] Mat: people then have wasted their own time as well as the time of the editors and reviewers or whoever else is looking at that.

Okay, so you’ve got your paper submitted. What, what does, what do you do next? I’ve submitted the paper to your journal. What happens next?

[00:32:30] Kieran: So I think that as the author, then you got to wait and you got to give the journal a bit of time. The, it’s got to have time for potentially an admin person to.

to check it and that everything is in the right format. Then it will go on to an editor, or maybe a senior or junior member of the editorial board. And if they like it, and they think this looks good, they’ll no doubt send it out to peer review. It should be two or three peer reviewers, typically and they’ve got to find the peer reviewers and ask them, then send them paper, receive the peer review report back, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

So it’s not something that happens. overnight. You got to give them a chance and you got to wait that little bit. But then once they’ve had a chance to review your paper internally and externally through the external process of peer review then you’ll hear back. And then you’ve got to be ready to act on any suggestions you might get.

[00:33:42] Mat: What would be the outcomes? When I hear back, what are the kind of things you might say to me?

[00:33:49] Kieran: Yes, Usually you’ll get report back from the editor of a journal and also included within that will be peer reviewed comments on your paper. And it’s important to read through everything in detail.

And then think about what should I do in light of that? And sometimes you might get an acceptance or but often, even if you get an acceptance, there’ll be suggestions of what else you might do. Sometimes you might get a straight out rejection. Often you will get a, can you consider these suggestions or instructions and so it’s a matter of going through the peer reviewer comments one by one and thinking, actually, is that a good point?

Can I rewrite that section in light of the peer reviewer comments the Peer reviewer might have suggested you missed important references. You should have described other people’s work in the introduction or discussion or whatever. And so you might think, gosh, yeah, that’s a good idea and I can adjust it.

And then you got to state explicitly. How you’ve improved the paper in light of the peer reviewer comments, as and when you’ve done that, with a view to resubmitting it. Okay, so

[00:35:11] Mat: you’re either going to get, you need to do a bit more work, and then it may or may not get accepted, or you’re going to get a reject.

Do you have an idea, what are the chances of getting rejected? I know you might have a figure for your own journal, but in general, what proportion of papers? tend to get rejected outright?

[00:35:30] Kieran: Yeah, so it really depends on the journals and I work more on the educational side than the journal side at BMJ, but I’m a kind of writer and do work myself and submit things to journals myself.

So it depends. It’s really hard to get into the, to get research project. Published in the really high impact journals like BMJ or the other ones at the real top of the scale. But there are lots of other journals out there like the ones we are we mentioned already that publish quality improvement or medical education work and they typically have a higher acceptance rate.

Often in the. About this journal section, which will be on somewhere on the journal website, they’ll state What their acceptance rates are, which might be anything from 4% to, to 50 to percent or whatever. And it’s worthwhile taking those into account as well in deciding where to submit your journal.

[00:36:39] Mat: And the reality is that if people have done a research project, chances are that sooner or later they’re going to come against, at least one, if not more rejections. And okay, now I’ve submitted the paper and it’s rejected. What do I do next?

[00:36:55] Kieran: Yes. You’re absolutely right. And I’ve been lucky.

I’ve got a good number of papers published in, in different places. But I always say to people, you don’t. see the number of times I’ve been rejected or the paper has been rejected. So I think the answer is don’t lose heart to, to share the editorial comments and peer reviewer comments with your co-authors and to take them into account if you can.

And think, okay how can we improve our write up? In light of these comments and incorporate them, if we can, into the next iteration of the paper and then think about what journal you might go to next, and then go ahead and submit it to that journal. I think It’s important not to just say, okay, I’ll ignore all those comments and I’ll just submit it to another journal because often there’s, it can be a small world and there can be a limited number of peer reviewers and sometimes you might end up with the same peer reviewer and they won’t be enormously impressed if you’ve ignored their comments in one journal when you could Did have reasonably taken some of them into account before submitting it to another journal.

But I think the answer is that if you’ve got good paper based on a good project, which might be a research project or any other type of project, you should keep going. And you might have to go a couple of steps down the scale in terms of the impact factor or quality of the journal or whatever.

But I think you should keep going because, as you were saying, for yourself, it’s a shame if you’ve done work not to be able to share it with others and get recognition for what you’ve done. And also, it’s a waste for projects that are not published and where other people can’t learn from your work.

[00:39:05] Mat: So it’s about taking it on board, learning from it, making your paper better or justifying the stuff that can’t be changed and starting again. So you mentioned the idea of impact factors, what are impact factors and How does that help people make a decision as to which journal they go for?

[00:39:25] Kieran: Yeah. Yeah. And sorry, before I get onto that I think sometimes you might disagree with a pair of your comments and you might say, no, actually, that’s wrong. And we’re right. And to have done it this way and to have written up in that way. And if that’s the case, you should make that clear in your response to the peer reviewer comments in, in, and you should make that clear in a kind of reasoned manner.

And sometimes the editor will then agree and take that into account. So sometimes it’s a matter of justification. Mat, sorry. I answered the last question. I can’t remember what the…

[00:40:01] Mat: It was about impact factor, because you said… Oh, yes, yeah,

[00:40:05] Kieran: Yeah. Yeah, the some of the top journals will have a high impact factor.

The BMJ being, being one, but the other academic, international, high quality journals will have a high impact factor. And by… the very nature. It’s difficult to get into journals like that, even though ideally you would get your paper into a journal like that. But I think once again, it’s a matter of thinking, what’s the aim of your project?

Is it To get published in a high impact journal, which is a perfectly valid aim, or is it to educate or to inform people or to share your work and in which case you maybe don’t need to worry so much about impact factor and think about other things like who’s most likely to read it. And use it in their everyday clinical practice.

So those are other factors to take into account, I think, as well as just the impact factor.

[00:41:14] Mat: And for somebody who’s been listening and they’re now thinking, okay, I want to do something, I want to get a paper published. What resources are there out there that can help them?

[00:41:25] Kieran: Yeah, so there’s lots and lots of resources out there, like BMJ Research to publication is one.

There’s another one called BMJ Impact Analytics recently launched which helps you to find and track and share. the real world impact of your research. But there’s other resources as well. There’s if you go to the equator network for reporting guidelines, there’s a wealth of information there.

There’s the international committee of medical journal editors have a website as well, and you’ll find lots of good guidance there as well. So I think I think I’d start with those resources, first of all, to get guidance on your work. But once again, I’d encourage people to look at them before they start their project, not halfway through and not at the end when they’re thinking about writing it up.

[00:42:26] Mat: And maybe if I bring us to a close and I ask, what would be your top tips for a doctor who’s thinking, I need to get my paper published?

[00:42:35] Kieran: Top tips. I think that, first of all, it’s important to say that loads of people have fantastic and excellent ideas. And I think you were saying that, Mat, at the very start.

But often they don’t get them published because they don’t write them up. And so I’d encourage, first of all, people to write them up. The old saying of a writer writes. is really important. And if you don’t write them up and submit them to a journal, there’s one guarantee, which is that you definitely won’t get published.

So I think that’s first of all, is to go ahead. And the other thing is to be prepared. Which is more than just a kind of a generalist kind of comment. I mean it really specifically I mean it by saying, planning your work from the start and thinking from the start.

Ideally, what journal? would I like to get this paper published in? And before you even start your project, read the instructions for authors and read the guidelines for writing up and reporting this work in detail and think about, okay, all those different things I need to have in place. Even if it’s quite a straightforward project, like maybe a questionnaire.

or A survey, there are guidelines of how to do them and how to write them up for example, piloting before you start. And I’m surprised the number of people who, who do questionnaire or survey research without. Piloting them at the start as a minimum but you’ll find all this on online.

It’s just a matter of doing the work before you start. Sorry, that’s you’re hoping I’m sure for a short tip there at the very end. Gone on too long, but to sum it up, yeah, I think planning is really important.

[00:44:28] Mat: I think that also is the. So that’s the standout thing for me as well from our discussions today is that, begin with the end in mind.

And if you want to get something published right from the beginning, you need to bear that in mind. I think that would be my takeaway as well from our discussion. Thank you very much, Kieran.

[00:44:46] Kieran: Thanks, Mat. Thank you very much indeed.

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