Medical writing, editing and publishing

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    InnovAiT: Education and inspiration online version of this article can be found at:

    DOI: 10.1177/1755738014531563

    2014 7: 370 originally published online 6 May 2014InnovAiTChantal Simon

    Medical writing, editing and publishing

    Published by:

    On behalf of:

    Royal College of General Practitioners

    can be found at:InnovAiT: Education and inspiration for general practiceAdditional services and information for Alerts:

    What is This?

    - May 6, 2014OnlineFirst Version of Record

    - May 23, 2014Version of Record >>

    at UNIV NEBRASKA LIBRARIES on August 17, 2014ino.sagepub.comDownloaded from at UNIV NEBRASKA LIBRARIES on August 17, 2014ino.sagepub.comDownloaded from

  • Medical writing, editingand publishing

    Although the core function of general practice is patient care, there aremany opportunities for GPs to get involved in other educational and aca-demic activities. Most GPs find academic activities a useful adjunct to their

    clinical work. As well as being educational and broadening horizons, such activ-ities stimulate GPs to think and reappraise their own clinical work and the work oftheir practice. This article aims to give an overview of the range of opportunitiesavailable within medical publishing and some tips on how to access thoseopportunities.

    The GP curriculum and medical publishing

    Relevant to medical publishing, RCGP Contextual statement 2.03: The GP in the wider professionalenvironment requires GPs to be able to:. Communicate effectively with individuals and groups. Promote the sharing of information and resources. Proactively seek to improve services by questioning the status quo. Develop and communicate aspirations for the improvement of services. Seek out, adopt and disseminate models of good practice. Actively seek to inform and influence decision-makers. Actively seek and take account of the views of others. Create opportunities to bring together individuals and groups to achieve goals. Take into account the needs, feelings, values and expertise of others, and. Demonstrate the ability to be an effective member and, where appropriate, be a willing leader of a team

    Contextual statement 2.04: Enhancing professional knowledge requires GPs to be able to:. Acquire the research and academic skills required of a GP that aid decision-making, which include a non-

    judgmental evidence-based approach to problem solving and recognising how individual bias may affect your

    interpretation. Be prepared to act as an educator within your local community. Understand that your opinion is often asked for as an expert, and that when given you should take care to ensure

    you understand the evidence or experience that underpins your own understanding, and be clear when you are

    stating an opinion based on experience rather than evidence. Understand that teaching others is more than imparting information

    Getting involved...........................................................Local initiativesIf you want to try your hand at writing educational mater-ial, there may be opportunities already within your ownpractice. If your practice produces a newsletter forpatients, consider writing a self-help article to be pub-lished in it. Alternatively, many practices have journalclubs or regular education sessions. Volunteer to lead

    one of these sessions and write some supporting educa-tional material for your colleagues. Another way to getinvolved at a local level might be to contribute to, or evenedit, your local RCGP Faculty newsletter.

    ReviewingPeer reviewing articles for journals, whether research-oriented journals or educational journals, is a good wayto find out how other people write. You will soon pick up..










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    InnovAiT, 7(6), 370375 DOI: 10.1177/1755738014531563


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  • style points that you think are effective and others thatyou find annoying. It is also useful to review other peo-ples articles if you are intending to submit an article ofyour own to a journal, as it helps you to become familiarwith the style and the level at which articles are pitchedfor that particular journal.

    To become a reviewer for a journal, go to the journalshome page. Often you will be able to sign up to be areviewer online. In most cases this requires providingyour contact details and also some information aboutyour areas of expertise/interest. If that is not possible,contact the journals Editorial Office.

    Writing letters to be publishedIf you have strong feelings about information that is pub-lished in a newspaper or academic journal, consider writ-ing a letter to express your views. This is a much smallerundertaking than writing a whole article, but gives youinsight into the way that publications are put togetherand practice in getting your point across in a succinctand interesting way.

    Writing articles for journals and othermedical publicationsWriting an article for a journal is a good way to test outyour writing skills. Medical writing courses are available,often through local medical schools. These can providehelpful hints and also boost your confidence to write anarticle yourself. However, really the best way to learn isto have a go.

    First, pick your journal. The choice of journal will dependon the type of article that you want to write. For example,the British Journal of General Practice contains reports onoriginal research as well as review articles on topics ofbroad interest to GPs. InnovAiT contains educational art-icles linked to the GP Curriculum and is a useful resourcefor all GPs.

    If a complete feature article is too much to tackle firsttime around, what about writing a short discussion art-icle? For example, you could write an 800 word (singlepage) 10-minutes conundrum for InnovAiT, or a 1200word Debate and Analysis article for the British Journalof General Practice. InnovAiT also has a buddy schemethat pairs inexperienced authors with those who havepreviously written published articles. The buddy pro-vides informal feedback and advice during the writingprocess and before the article is submitted. This canhelp boost novice writers confidence, and is also likelyto result in a better article with a higher chance of accept-ance. If you would like to use the InnovAiT buddyscheme to help with writing an article for InnovAiT,please contact the InnovAiT Editorial Office.

    Once you have chosen your journal and before writingyour article, read a few back issues to get a feel for thejournal style. Go to the journals website to find out howto submit an article and download the authors instruc-tions. Make sure that when you write your article thatyou stick to the authors instructions. Many journals willsend your article straight back to you without consideringit further if it is not formatted correctly. If you have anyquestions contact the Editorial Office of the journal andask for clarification.

    Choice of topic is important. Good topics are ones thatinterest you, are small enough to tackle within a singlearticle, and are clearly defined. Decide on the scope ofyour article before you start writing and stick to yourremit. There is no right or wrong way to write an articlebut I find the formula outlined in Box 1 helpful.

    When writing an article, it is important to remember thatyour work should be original. Cutting and pasting mater-ial from other sources without permission from theauthor/publisher is illegal and most journals now havesophisticated electronic plagiarism-screening softwarethat checks every article for this type of borrowed mater-ial. Finding plagiarised material will result in immediaterejection of your article and could result in a GeneralMedical Council complaint.

    If you want to copy material legally for your article, suchas a picture or table from another source, then generallyyou must seek and gain written permission for its usefrom the person or organisation that owns the copyright.Journal policies relevant to material copyrighted else-where should be included in the author instructions avail-able from the journals website. If you are unsure, contactthe journals Editorial Office for advice.

    Once you submit your article, most respectable journalshave a peer review process. Your article is sent to otherpeople interested in the field for their feedback.Reviewers may be anonymous, but increasingly theyare required to identify themselves to the author.Reviewing is used by Editors to judge the quality


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