What are journal editors looking for in a research paper?


Dr Catherine Walshe, Editor of Palliative Medicine, the research journal of the EAPC, discusses what makes a good paper, and how the journal has chosen its ‘paper of the year’.

Dr Catherine Walsh, Palliative Medicine Editor

Dr Catherine Walshe, Editor of Palliative Medicine

Writing a research paper takes time, but is critically important when communicating findings and often a key step in maximising the impact of research on practice, policy and theory. As an editorial team at Palliative Medicine we appreciate the care that those who submit papers to us take over their work, but sadly we just don’t have the space to publish everything that’s submitted to us. This means that we have to decline some manuscripts. So what can you do to maximise the chances that your paper is one that we’re interested in? What are editors and reviewers looking for? In no particular order: 

First, relevance: We hope to curate content that is relevant to a palliative care audience. This is, of course, a pretty broad multidisciplinary audience with interests in palliative care provided across different settings, at various times, with diverse people, and using a range of methods. Chances are then, that your topic area is likely to be ‘within scope’ for the journal. Do check though if you’re not sure as we do still decline manuscripts at times because their focus is tangential, for example because they are primarily about earlier oncological treatment.

Second, quality: A key issue we look for is that the research reported is robust, high quality research, with methods appropriate to the question(s) posed. We look for clear and comprehensive presentation of how you conducted the study, and ask that you use a relevant reporting guideline in the preparation of your manuscript.

Third, novelty: Given the pressure of space, we prioritise papers that clearly add to knowledge in our field. This doesn’t necessarily mean, for example, that we only look for ‘positive’ findings, as negative or equivocal findings can be as useful to policymakers and practitioners. This is, however, one of the main reasons we decline papers – that their contribution to knowledge is unclear or poorly articulated. 

Fourth, applicability to our international audience: The readership of Palliative Medicine is diverse. To date this year, we have had website visitors from 191 different countries. Papers therefore need to be written with this audience in mind, and we are therefore less likely to publish papers that do not take account of this in their background, language, and appreciation of impact.

Do take account of our instructions to authors – they are, we hope, comprehensive and clear. Whilst we don’t have a slavish devotion to initial submissions following, for example, our referencing requirements, our mood isn’t improved when authors clearly haven’t taken account of any of our sensible suggestions on issues such as title, abstract structure, and clear methods reporting. And if you think they are not clear – contact us. You can also reach us via social media on Twitter (@palliativemedj) and Facebook.

10.coverOne article last year, which ‘ticked our boxes’, is our ‘paper of the year’ for 2015. Judged with members of our editorial advisory board, Eduardo Bruera and Claire Gardiner, these issues of relevance, quality, novelty and applicability were what made this paper stand out for our judges. We’re delighted to be making this award to Jeff Round, Louise Jones and Steve Morris for their paper Estimating the cost of caring for people with cancer at the end of life: A modelling study, which you can find here

We hope you enjoy reading the paper. And perhaps your paper might be the one receiving the award next year!

Find out more in Dublin . . . dublin banner big

Catherine will be presenting the Palliative Medicine 2015 Paper of the Year Award on Saturday 11 June at 14h00 in the Closing Ceremony of the 9th EAPC World Research Congress.

Welcome to Dublin – 9th EAPC World Research Congress. Follow us on Twitter @EAPCOnlus – our official congress hashtag is #eapc2016irl

Velkommen til Dublin – 9th EAPC World Research Congress. Du kan følge med på Twitter @EAPCOnlus – vores officielle kongres hashtag er #eapc2016irl

Bienvenue à Dublin – 9th EAPC World Research Congress. Suivez-nous sur Twitter @EAPCOnlus avec le hashtag officiel #eapc2016irl



This entry was posted in EAPC ACTIVITIES, EAPC Board Members, EAPC World Congresses, EAPC World Research Congresses, EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, Palliative Medicine: Editor's Choice and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s