Prevent Scientific Paper Apprehension

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Scientific Paper Snafu

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Peer-reviewed articles among fee-charging open-access journals got a wakeup call. In October 2013 the investigative article “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?” by John Bohannon was published in Science Magazine.

Thousands of biomedical journals use some type of peer review to help editors decide what to publish. The successful purpose of the exposé was to reveal how easy it is to get published, even in the absence of supporting data or credentials. Of 304 journals receiving bogus findings, 157 accepted and were highlighted as examples of predatory publishers. The exercise brought both support and criticism of the open-source movement. Some publishers have better vetting processes. A few sites shut down. How does this report make you feel?

Why Researchers May Fear Publication

Some venues desire to make information available in several formats. In addition to the exhibit hall with paper posters, a kiosk with PDF versions may be accessible. Authors might receive invitations for oral presentations with PowePoint presentations.

Whether presenting research online or during a clinical science conference on a poster, there is often apprehension over scrutiny. This, with the fear of disclosing trade secrets, can lead to content with either excessive details or vague suggestions. It is important to strike a balance.

  1. What is the objective of the research?
  2. What did you find?
  3. Will it benefit others is proprietary information is omitted?

Usually, product brand names are prohibited from appearing on clinical posters. Instead, you must list ingredients within the Materials and Methods section. The FDA also wants to know what is inside pharmaceuticals and ingredients must appear on product packaging. Perhaps your trade secret is the method of production or testing. Again, answer what is your purpose for presentation?

Competitors attend conferences. Revealing upcoming products or methods of testing may not pass corporate legal scrutiny. For the information approved for presentation, there may be a desire to limit access. You may not be able to prevent attendees from snapping a photo of your hanging poster. Perhaps you are less comfortable having people download an editable PDF. Most kiosks are for viewing only. Yet, authors may submit PDFs that include security features.

Before submitting a manuscript to a journal, the author of Why peer should not rhyme with fear, suggests going through this checklist:

  • Choose the right journal: focus on relevance and audience interest, and do not simply go for the journal with the highest impact factor;
  • Consult the target journal’s instructions to authors regarding length, format and style and stick to them 100%;
  • Pay attention to detail and take NOTHING for granted;
  • A grammatically/syntactically correct manuscript that follows the instructions to authors to the letter will have a far greater chance of publication than one which is superficially written and full of mistakes;
  • Be sure of the correct abstract format (single-paragraph or structured), do not exceed the permitted number of keywords, make certain the title is concise and informative and supply a running head if requested, se double spacing throughout, number the pages as requested, thank everyone that needs thanking in the acknowledgements, declare any eventual conflicts of interest, specify ethics committee approval if required;
  • Prepare a magnificently clear, concise, and pertinent cover letter.

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References
  1. Who's Afraid of Peer Review? wikipedia.org
  2. I will survive: why peer should not rhyme with fear. nih.gov
  3. John M. I will survive: Why peer should not rhyme with fear. Heart, Lung and Vessels 2013; 5(3): 187–188.
  4. How to Write an Evidence-Based Clinical Review Article. aafp.org

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