Does an editor make any difference to the quality of palliative care research?


There are just 66 days to #EAPC2022! With live sessions on 18 to 20 May 2022, and lots of on-demand content before and after the congress, this is the place of meeting for all of us in palliative care research. Ahead of the congress, we’re pleased to give some highlights of what to expect at #EAPC2022. Today, we are delighted to announce that the recipient of the #EAPC2022 Cicely Saunders Award is Professor Catherine Walshe.  The EAPC Cicely Saunders Award is given to an individual who has made a broad contribution to palliative care, either in research, clinical practice or in organisation/policy that has made a difference to the practice of palliative care.  Here Catherine Walshe gives us a glimpse of what to expect from her presentation on 20th May 2022.

Prof Catherine Walshe
Professor Catherine Walshe

Oh dear! Perhaps with the rhetorical question I’ve just asked myself about the role of an editor, I’ve done myself out of a job if the answer is ‘no’?  I’ve had the privilege and honour to be involved in the EAPC’s research journal Palliative Medicine over the last decade or so, an amazing and continuing learning journey for me, and hopefully one where I am able to make a small difference to palliative care research. And I’m overwhelmed and humbled to be receiving this award, thank you, but of course this recognition primarily reflects the wonderful teams I have the privilege to work alongside.

I guess in the short term all I can say is that I hope the team at the journal have made a difference to the quality of reporting of palliative care research. I’m as acutely aware as all of you that research quality and the quality of research reporting are not the same thing, although I think they are intertwined. As my Scottish grandmother always used to say ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’.  Now, that is definitely not a comment on the current state of palliative care research. However, it is a reminder that even if you are an expert at reporting your study in a comprehensive, engaging and succinct manner, if you haven’t asked a great question and answered it using an appropriate design, it is unlikely to get published.

We have certainly worked hard at Palliative Medicine over the years to improve the quality of research reporting. We have introduced structure to elements such as our abstracts and discussions to ensure that essential components are included. We have (and I know you may curse us for this) asked that you pay attention to relevant reporting guidelines and developed a checklist so that it is clear and unambiguous what we look for, so that the messages from your research findings are made explicit and contextualised for our international audience. Authors are highly likely to get editors queries about the methods of the study, asking as well for a brief justification of the approach and an appreciation of ethical considerations.

We think this has helped to contribute to the quality of palliative care research. I can see over the time that I have been involved with Palliative Medicine that not only has the quality of reporting improved, but also the quality of the underpinning science. Now of course we are only a small element in this, there are many aspects to the maturing field of palliative care research, but I hope that our focus on quality has played its part.

I am delighted and honoured to be talking about some of these aspects at the forthcoming EAPC Congress 2022. I hope to be able to take you on a quality journey from an editor’s perspective – thinking about what contributes to research quality, from the purpose of the research; to the question asked; the design chosen to answer that question; the robust conduct of that research, and then (and only then) the task of writing this in a meaningful way for an international audience. I hope you are able to join me on that journey. As an editor, I am on your side. The same side as researchers, authors, reviewers and readers and ultimately patients and their relatives – working to enable the highest possible quality of palliative care research that can make a difference to the experience of those for whom we care.

Join Professor Catherine Walshe on 20th May 2022 when she gives the Cicely Saunders Award Lecture: ‘Promoting Quality in Palliative Care Research: Perspectives of an Editor’ at the EAPC 12TH World Research Congress Online. Find out more about the Congress here

About the author

Catherine Walshe is Editor in Chief of the EAPC Research Journal Palliative Medicine and also Professor of Palliative Care at the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University, UK.


This entry was posted in EAPC 12th World Research Congresss, 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: Logo

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.