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Editors, Authors Offer Tips for Journal Reviewers, Submitters

Cecelia E. Schmalbach, MD, MSc, highlights the importance of patient safety and quality improvement when submitting manuscripts for publication.

Cecelia E. Schmalbach, MD, MSc, highlights the importance of patient safety and quality improvement when submitting manuscripts for publication.

The parameters for submitting and reviewing journal manuscripts are complex and wide-ranging. In two Annual Meeting sessions, the editor-in-chief and deputy editor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, along with editors and authors from the publication, walked attendees through the ins and outs of accomplishing both. John Krouse, MD, PhD, MBA, editor-in-chief of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, led both programs.

Monday afternoon’s “How to Review a Journal Manuscript” gave new and experienced peer reviewers tips for how to complete succinct and insightful reviews of journal manuscripts submitted for publication,

“Our goal is to have you be more thoughtful, confident, and skillful reviewers who help us as editors make decisions around papers we review for consideration in the journals,” Dr. Krouse said. He shared a checklist for reviewers:

  • Relevance to mission: Is the information in this manuscript consistent with the mission of the journal?
  • Internal validity: Are the study design, conduct, and analysis described in a manner that is unbiased, appropriate, and reproducible?
  • External validity: Was the study sample chosen appropriately described in adequate detail for results to be generalized?
  • Level of evidence: Does this manuscript significantly improve the knowledge base beyond what is already published on this topic?
  • Ethical conduct: Is the manuscript original, approved by an Institutional Review Board, if applicable, and free of undisclosed conflicts of interest?

“Peer review really is designed to give you the ability to judge the quality of the paper and to provide feedback to the authors about where you think that paper could be improved,” Dr. Krouse said. “It really is a step in the direction of trying to make appropriate decisions about publication. Then, as readers on the other end, your critical assessment of that paper when it’s published is also just as important. A good reviewer is a good consumer of the medical literature.”

Tuesday morning’s “Getting Published: Reviews and Research” gave writers design, preparation, and submission tips for successfully publishing in medical journals. The journal’s deputy editor, Cecelia E. Schmalbach, MD, MSc, who also was a co-leader for the Monday session, highlighted the importance of patient safety and quality improvement. Jennifer Shin, MD, MS, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, discussed how to prepare high-quality systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Jean Anderson Eloy MD, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, described how to conduct and publish manuscripts based on large databases.

“Patient safety is an area of increasing importance,” Dr. Krouse said. “The need for us to understand these areas and work on patient safety and quality will become increasingly important. Not only is it good patient care, it’s going to be good financially for your practices to get really good data.”

For Dr. Krouse, systematic reviews and meta-analysis “are high-impact papers that are the highest level of evidence and will give practice-change and paradigm-changing information.”

The greater number of research publications based on large data sets is becoming more of a trend in research.

“Large data sets and the ability to use computing power to mine those large data sets has given us the opportunity to really balance many of the inequalities across data and make those data more generalizable,” Dr. Krouse said. “And there are specific methods that are used in these large data set analyses that help those papers to answer clinical questions.

“The message for you as authors is that as authors approach publication, you tend to think of single-research studies, case studies, and single trials, and there are many, many other approaches out there that you can use.”

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