JDD Corner

Becoming a Published Author: Part 1



We at Next Steps are very excited to announce that the Executive Editor of our media partner, the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, will be providing expert advice and tips on getting published. Karin Beehler, who has over 25 years of publishing experience, will share her extensive knowledge and expertise with our Next Steps readers in a 2-part series. Read part 2 here

Ever wonder what it takes to get research published in a reputable medical journal? Whether your goal is to improve your CV, establish yourself as an expert or educate others, getting published is an art that must be mastered. In this 2-part series, you will learn insider information that will help you navigate the ins and outs of becoming a published author.

What do scientific journals want from you?

  • Timely topics of interest to the readership
  • Review papers, expert opinion, patient education material, policy topics
  • Larger, multi-center, long-term studies
  • Novel insights, new discoveries, new treatments

Journals look for submissions that cover timely topics of particular interest to its readers. The readers may be mostly physicians with private practices or they may be based at academic institutions and medical schools. Before choosing a journal to submit to, check if the journal has a clinical focus or if it is more research oriented. Does your article fit the journal’s scope and mission? Is there a specialty journal that would be interested or does your article have a wider appeal that would attract both clinicians and researchers in several fields?

Original research, observational studies, multi-center trials, small studies, reviews, correspondence, brief communications, and case reports all help balance the content and attract the widest audience to read the issue. Journals may accept more or less of a certain manuscript type based on what other content they have in their queue ready to be published.

Journals may look to fill special issues on special topics. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the editorial calendar and any special issues or tie-in issues for academic meetings and conferences. For instance, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and journals may wish to publish more articles on melanoma or treatments for skin cancer in May. The timing of your submission may be key to increasing the chance of acceptance in a particular journal.

For journals with a clinical focus, larger, multi-center, long-term studies that add to the evidence base are more desirable than small, single-center studies with just a few patients. Many journals do not publish case reports and prefer to publish these in the form of a letter to the editor or a brief communication.

Submissions that contain novel insight, new uses for drugs, new techniques, or new treatments tend to achieve a higher priority because they help to stir controversy and add interest. Unique and inventive studies are not only interesting to read but offer the chance and hope to expand the knowledge base and contribute something new and different to the existing literature.

The first thing journals look at (must haves, deal breakers, things to avoid)

  • Compliance with Instructions for Authors
  • Scientific presentation and format
  • Study design
  • Disclosure of financial relationships
  • Data must support the conclusions

The first thing journals look for is completeness and quality of presentation and whether the manuscript appears to follow the basic AMA guidelines for scholarly journal articles. If there are obvious errors in the spelling and grammar in the title or abstract, the manuscript might be directly rejected for English-language.

Manuscripts should contain all the required elements including the body text in Word format, any figures and tables, an abstract, a disclosure statement and a signed copyright release form. Manuscripts with missing elements will be held in the queue for processing until materials are received as these items are needed for evaluation by the reviewers.

It is a good idea to follow the Instructions for Authors as closely as possible, including length, acceptable formats for manuscript and figures, and reference style. Manuscripts that follow the Instructions will be processed more quickly and others that have compliance issues may be returned to the authors, which will delay the peer-review and decision.

Once the submission passes the quality assessment by the journal staff, the editor will evaluate the substance of the paper to determine the chances of acceptance. They will look at the quality of the writing, the scientific presentation, the quality of the figures, the quality of the tables, the size of the study, the design of the study, and to see whether the conclusions are supported by the data presented. If the submission passes this step of evaluation, the manuscript will be released to peer-review.

In Part 2 of this series, Karin Beehler, Executive Editor of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, will be discussing the Peer Review Process. Check back in to learn more insider information directly from our publishing expert.