Sandra Martins Pereira and Sarah Yardley, Screening Editors, and Catherine Walshe, Editor-in-Chief, of Palliative Medicine, unveil the new author instructions and explain how to make your submissions focused and relevant.
Do case reports in palliative care still matter? The short, unanimous answer during our editorial board meeting was “Yes.” So, why do we tend to reject them at editorial screening? This second question was less straightforward … After a joint reflection about why we rejected case reports so frequently, when we considered the format relevant, we concluded that this happened mostly because of a couple of reasons. First, submitted case reports were often not as novel in the international literature as the authors thought, so we judged the submission to be local reflexive practice. Second, most case reports concluded with a self-evident statement along the lines of “and therefore this is an area of research” rather than critically identifying what specific research would have most potential for impact.
Following our discussion, it was clear that we wanted to continue publishing case reports. Therefore, we opted to create new author guidelines to help authors make submissions focused and relevant. A few main ideas came out of our brainstorming:
- First, we are a research journal. To be interesting for us, case reports (or series) have to provide close analyses of practice-based examples, giving insights into what happens on the clinical frontline when research evidence-based options have been exhausted, and identify potential ‘golden nuggets’ for further research exploration. (It is not enough to simply state that we need more research – we doubt any study, let alone case reports, will ever conclude that no more research is needed).
- Second, we prefer case series instead of single case reports. From our experience, prospective planning of data collection usually strengthens the findings and implications. So, you might come across an interesting case – can you then monitor and, if needed, team up with others to look at the questions it raised and the approaches taken in other cases as these occur? Except in the rarest of issues this should be possible.
- Third, case reports and series are more helpful for research and clinical practice if they provide clear statements and information on what we already know (from current evidence we can conclude …); what this case report or series adds (we should do this … we shouldn’t do this … and we’re not sure about this …) and what are the implications of this case report or case series (the answer to the challenging “so what?”).
A new type of submission – ‘Practice reviews’
Finally, our discussion identified a potential need for a new type of submission: We are calling this ‘Practice reviews’, and hope it will provide a format for a ‘stock take’ or overview of the current ‘state of the science’ in an area of practice, covering newly emergent ‘hot topics’ and ethical issues as well as clinical concerns such as ‘orphan’ symptoms.
Practice reviews remain distinct from our review paper submissions so check out the new author guidelines to learn more. We are most grateful to our colleagues at Perspectives on Medical Education for allowing us to adapt their successful format.
So, might you have research and clinical relevant cases or case series to share and discuss with our readers? Might you have ‘stock-take’ or emergent ‘hot topics’ to discuss in the form of a practice review? We look forward to receiving your submissions and, perhaps, your article can become one of the ‘Editor’s choice’ posts for the EAPC blog!
- Access the Palliative Medicine ‘New Author Guidelines’ here.
- Follow Palliative Medicine on Twitter @palliativemedj
- Read the ‘Editor’s Choice’ posts here
More about the authors
Sandra Martins Pereira is a Screening Editor on the Board of Palliative Medicine. Sandra works as a Senior Researcher and Invited Lecturer at the Institute or Bioethics, Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
Contact Sandra by email. Twitter: @SandraMartinsP2
Sarah Yardley is a Screening Editor on the Board of Palliative Medicine. Sarah works as a Consultant in Palliative Medicine for Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, UK, and is an Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Marie Curie Research Department, University College London.
Contact Sarah by email. Twitter: @lavendercrew
Catherine Walshe is the Editor-in-Chief of Palliative Medicine. Catherine is Professor of Palliative Care and Director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care, part of the Division of Health Research, at Lancaster University.
Contact Catherine by email. Twitter: @cewalshe