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How to get published
Dr Jonathan Hinton, @JonathanWHinton
Whilst there are many good reasons for wanting to publish (figure 1) rightly or wrongly most trainees feel a pressure to do so in order to progress their career. This is perhaps particularly pertinent to interventional cardiology given the large evidence base that previous generations have contributed to.
This article aims to provide some tips for those wanting to start publishing. Some will choose to undertake a period of out of program research which is clearly an excellent opportunity to publish, but this will be discussed in another series of articles. The most important message is to think of something that you are interested in and would enjoy working on. If the idea fills you with dread from the beginning then it is worth reconsidering because most of the time it takes a lot of hard work to get something published. There are plenty of options to start writing and publishing that are achievable for trainees. The following are some suggestions to get you started.
Start easy, with a case report?
The first option that many consider is writing a case report. In recent years however, these have become harder to publish. Before writing your case report (this link provides useful guidance on creating a case report (1)) there are a few points worth considering (1). Firstly it is important to find the right case for the journal you are considering and often the best way is to look at what that journal has published before. Whilst a rare case might be interesting, most journals want something that has a message that the readership will find relevant to their practice. In fact, some of the best case reports are clear examples of common presentations. Secondly, many journals now have case reports in the format of an image with discussion rather than a traditional report. Cardiology lends itself to this format given the range of imaging modalities available. Thirdly, journals will often follow a theme of publications and spotting this can lead to an opportunity. For example, this image in the New England Journal of Medicine of a posterior STEMI is not unusual but follows a series of other cases of different territories of STEMI that was spotted and therefore this submission sent (2). When thinking about writing a case report or image, it is important to consider patient consent at an early stage. Almost all journals will want written consent from a patient and, from personal experience, it is much easier to get this when the patient is in hospital than once discharged.
Help someone/find a friend
There are often opportunities to get involved in research that is being done locally. From personal experience, during my research program, there were times when I would have been delighted to get some enthusiastic help with a section of my work. It maybe that this mainly involves collecting data but the experience gained from being part of that team, seeing the drafts of the article and understanding the process will be of great value for your future work. It is important to clarify when offering to help someone whether the work you plan to do will be considered enough for authorship. If your aim is to get published then this is clearly important but there is still merit to being involved even if it does not lead to you getting published.
Does it need to be listed on PubMed?
There are a wide range of different journals and for many established researchers if it is not listed on PubMed then it is not worth considering. However for those of us starting academic writing, there are plenty of good journals that are not PubMed listed that may actually be the perfect fit for a piece of work. For example something that is relevant specifically to UK practice might work well in the British Journal of Cardiology (3). Another opportunity to start is by writing articles for websites such as the fellows corner here or as an editorial for the British Cardiovascular Society (4). These will help to develop your writing skills and elevate your profile to help in future if you want to get involved in larger projects.
Should I pay to publish?
In short my opinion would be no, your hard work should be enough! In particular there are a number of predatory journals that should be avoided. However, there are a number of good open access journals which maybe more likely to take your work. Whilst I would not advise paying out of pocket, some libraries/universities/departments may have an arrangement that allows their work to be published without charge. It is therefore worth looking at your local links with journals.
Generalise an audit
There are always a range of audits/service improvement projects being undertaken in any department. Some of these might be of wider interest than just to your department, particularly if they relate to a unique aspect of care locally or if the cohort is unusually large. It is worth considering whether any audits you do can be adapted to make them publishable, whether as a paper or as an abstract. The additional beauty of an abstract is that it also frequently gives you the chance to present your work which is both an excellent experience and may sometimes lead to other opportunities; whether that be collaboration to make the work larger and more publishable or an idea of how to develop it further.
What if it is not related to intervention?
Clearly publishing in the field you are interested in makes sense but this should not put you off publishing in any other field. In fact sometimes articles not specifically related to coronary intervention maybe easier to publish and have a wider reach.
There are a range of different options to start sharing your work with the medical community, but the option best suited will depend on local factors. It is definitely worth doing starting but the important thing is to enjoy what you are doing!