Cuidebcck cn 5cientiƩc PubIishing
Advice fcr students and ycung investigatcrs in the ƩeId cf
HeaIth 5ervices and PcIicy ßesearch
The Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR)
Student Working Group (SWG)
The Health System Performance Research Network (HSPRN)
Cuidebcck designed by:
Rochelle Hayward- Graphic Designer
Cuidebcck Lead
Matthew Menear
PhD candidate, Public Health
University of Montreal
Ccntributing Authcrs Ř 5WC Members
MicheIIe Amri
Master’s candidate, Public
Queen’s University
5aneIa Cajic
Master’s candidate, Applied Health
Services Research
Dalhousie University
Lindsay Hedden
PhD candidate, Population and
Public Health
University of British Columbia
5eija krcmm
PhD candidate, Health Services
University of Toronto
ßuth Lavergne
PhD candidate, Population and
Public Health
University of British Columbia
Anne MahaIik
Master’s candidate, Applied Health
Services Research
Dalhousie University
Adam T. MiIIs
PhD candidate
Johnson Shoyoma Graduate
School of Public Policy
University of Regina
Leah 5mith
PhD candidate, Epidemiology
McGill University
EIeni Wener
MA candidate, Disability Studies
University of Manitoba
Invited Authcr
ßcb Fraser
Master’s of Nursing
University of Toronto
Abcut this guidebcck
There are many published resources available to help graduate students learn about the process of
publIshIng scIenIIƥc papers In peer-revIewed journals. However, In our experIence, much oI Ihe besI advIce
we receive during our studies is passed on to us from our peers and mentors who teach us the unwritten
řIrIcks oI Ihe IradeŚ when II comes Io publIshIng In our ƥeld.
Given this reality, this guidebook aims to provide students and young researchers involved in health
services and policy research (HSPR) with helpful, practical information on the various stages of the publishing
process. Much of this information has come directly from students and several of the top researchers in the
HSPR ƥeld. Dur hope Is IhaI IhIs guIde demysIIƥes Ihe publIshIng process and helps Io make your publIshIng
experIence more posIIIve and successIul.
The authors are grateful to Shivoan Balakumar, Agnes Grudniewicz and Saskia Sivananthan of the CAHSPR
SWG and Natasha Lane, Ashlinder Gill and Kristen Pitzul from the HSPRN for their helpful ideas, comments and
edIIs on Ihe guIdebook. We also Ihank CAHSPR Ior IheIr sIrong supporI oI Ihe SWC and Ior HSPRNŗs ƥnancIal
support for the creation and dissemination of this guidebook.
The authors thank researchers and students who enhanced the guidebook’s relevance by sharing their
advIce and experIences wIIh us, IncludIng RoberI ßorIulussI (DalhousIe UnIversIIy}, CIllIan Hanley (UnIversIIy
oI ßrIIIsh ColumbIa}, ClaIre Kendall (UnIversIIy oI DIIawa}, Sara KIrk (DalhousIe UnIversIIy}, MarIlyn MacDonald
(Dalhousie University), Kim McGrail (University of British Columbia), Peter Norton (University of Calgary), Joan
Sargeant (Dalhousie University), Sharon Straus (University of Toronto), Wendy Sword (McMaster University),
and Jennifer Zelmer (Editor-in-Chief, Healthcare Policy).
FInally, Ihe auIhors exIend specIal Ihanks Io Rob Fraser, InvIIed auIhor oI ChapIer 1U. Rob Is Iounder oI Rob
D. Fraser & Associates consulting services and the site Nursing Ideas, and is author of an award-winning book
titled The Nurses Social Media Advantage.
TabIe cf Ccntents
The Ten CommandmenIs oI scIenIIƥc publIshIng ...................................................................... 6
ChapIer 1 - Ceneral publIshIng advIce Ior IraInees new Io Ihe ƥeld .................................... 7
ChapIer 2 - TraInee-menIor relaIIonshIps and scIenIIƥc publIshIng ...................................1U
Chapter 3 - Commonly encountered authorship issues .........................................................13
ChapIer / - TargeIIng journals Ior publIcaIIon .........................................................................17
Chapter 5 - Commonly encountered writing issues ................................................................23
Chapter 6 - An overview of the peer review process ..............................................................28
Chapter 7 - Interacting with editors and reviewers, and dealing with criticism ...............31
Chapter 8 - Publishing qualitative research ..............................................................................35
ChapIer 5 - PublIshIng wIIhIn research projecI lIIe cycles ....................................................38
ChapIer 1U - DIgIIal Iools and scIenIIƥc communIcaIIon .......................................................44
Conclusion .........................................................................................................................................5U
References ....................................................................................................................................... 51

The Ten Ccmmandments cf scientiƩc pubIishing
1. Thou shalt always be on the lookout for publishing opportunities
2. Thou shalt identify a mentor who can guide you and provide support, resources
and opportunities for publishing
3. Thou shalt turn hard work into publications
4. Thou shalI choose your IargeI journal early and wIsely, emphasIzIng řƥIŚ
over impact factor
5. Thou shalt write to think, not think to write
6. Thou shalt be inspired by great writing style, while also developing your own voice
7. Thou shalI noI submII a paper wIIhouI readIng and adherIng Io Ihe specIƥc
submIssIon guIdelInes oI Ihe journal youŗre submIIIIng Io
8. Thou shalt receive criticism with an open mind and an open heart, and not let
rejecIIon deIer you Irom publIshIng work you belIeve In
9. Thou shalI leI scIenIIƥc InIegrIIy and Ihe spIrII oI dIscovery guIde you,
not career ambition
1U. Thou shalt embrace digital tools throughout the research and publishing process

CeneraI pubIishing advice fcr trainees new tc the ƩeId
“…and curiosity often leads to trouuuubbllle… oof! Well, after this I should think nothing of falling down
stairs” (Alice, as she falls down the rabbit hole in ‘Alice in Wonderland’)
If you’re reading this guide, then chances are your curiosity has caused you to tumble down the rabbit
hole and enIer Ihe wonderIully peculIar and sIImulaIIng ƥeld oI research IhaI Is HealIh ServIces and PolIcy
Research, or HSPR for short. If you didn’t plan on ending up here, you’re certainly not alone! HSPR is
comprIsed oI members wIIh a dIzzyIng array oI backgrounds. ÌI we gravIIaIe Io IhIs ƥeld, IIŗs because we
fundamentally share one belief: that we can improve people’s health and well-being through changes to
our health care system and health policies.
For Ihose who are new Io Ihe ƥeld, deƥnIng Ihe boundarIes oI HSPR can be challengIng. ßox 1.1
provIdes Iwo deƥnIIIons oI HSPR. The ƥrsI comes Irom Ihe CanadIan AssocIaIIon Ior HealIh ServIces
and Policy Research (CAHSPR) and the latter from AcademyHealth, which is the main HSPR association
in the United States.
ßcx 1.1 DeƩniticns cf H5Pß
H5Pß deƩned by CAH5Pß:
řşa problem-orIenIed ƥeld InIo whIch people enIer Irom a wIde range oI dIscIplInary backgrounds Io work
IogeIher Io ƥnd ways IhaI healIh care can besI be organIzed, ƥnanced, and delIvered.Ś
H5Pß deƩned by AcademyHeaIth:
řşIhe mulIIdIscIplInary ƥeld oI scIenIIƥc InvesIIgaIIon IhaI sIudIes how socIal IacIors, ƥnancIng sysIems,
organIzIng sIrucIures and processes, healIh IechnologIes, and personal behavIors aƤecI access Io healIh
care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately our health and well-being. Its research domains are
individuals, families, organizations, institutions, communities, and populations.”
The fcIIcwing excerpt
aIsc cƨers a gccd descripticn cf the H5Pß membership:
“…health services research can be done by those who don’t really consider themselves health services
researchers. The topic (e.g., quality) and the goal of the study (e.g., better quality) determine whether
someone is doing health services research. Those of us who consider ourselves health services
researchers musI recognIze IhaI our chosen ƥeld Is noI a closed shop where one needs a unIon card
before they can work.”
Ìndeed, many ƥelds oI sIudy have IIes Io HSPR and make up Ihe broader unIverse oI IhIs ƥeld (see FIgure 1
Ior examples}:
Figure 1. WcrdIe cf H5Pß-reIated ƩeIds

Regardless oI wheIher youŗre a selI-IdenIIƥed member or jusI a Ŗdabblerŗ In Ihe ƥeld, Ihe dIverse
and ƦuId naIure oI Ihe HSPR membershIp has ImplIcaIIons wIIh respecI Io Ihe publIcaIIon oI our
ideas and discoveries.
What are these implications? Well, as mentioned, much of the research conducted in HSPR is highly
collaborative in nature. You’ll routinely work and publish within teams composed of people that may
have very dIƤerenI Ideas, proIessIonal IraInIng, experIences, skIlls, and expecIaIIons wIIh respecI Io
publIshIng. UndersIandIng and communIcaIIng Ihe řrulesŚ Ior eƤecIIve Ieamwork In IhIs conIexI Is
ImporIanI Ior successIul publIshIng eƤorIs. ÌIŗs also common IhaI your research collaboraIIons expose
you Io many dIƤerenI research IopIcs and Iypes oI research IhaI exIends Io a wIde-rangIng audIence.
Accordingly, knowing your particular audiences and the best vehicles to reach them is another important
skill that HSPR researchers must develop.
Why is it impcrtant tc pubIish7
As a IraInee, you may ƥnd yourselI pursuIng sIudIes In a seIIIng where lIIIle emphasIs Is placed on
publIshIng In peer-revIewed journals. ThIs mIghI happen because oI Ihe kInd oI research IhaIŗs beIng
carried out in your team or because of the philosophies or personalities of your supervisor or colleagues.
In such situations, it’s important to consider the following arguments in favour of adopting a more
pro-publishing approach throughout your studies:
Ş When we publIsh, we grow Ihe exIsIIng knowledge base In our ƥeld. Ìn an applIed and problem-orIenIed
ƥeld such as HSPR, Ihe poIenIIal ImpacIs oI publIshIng arenŗI IrIvIal, as our work may have relevance
to people facing similar problems across the country and even around the world. Publishing your
research allows oIhers Io beneƥI Irom your hard work and reduces Ihe lIkelIhood IhaI Ihey wIll carry
ouI redundanI projecIs and wasIe valuable resources.
Ş Publications are a critical component of how academic scientists are evaluated. As a trainee, your
publication record will be evaluated when you apply for studentships or and other awards. Indeed,
Ihe weIghI accorded Io your publIcaIIon hIsIory Increases as you progress In your sIudIes (Ior example,
as one moves Irom a masIerŗs sIudenI Io a docIoral sIudenI Io a posI-docIoral Iellow}. For junIor and
senior investigators, your ability to obtain a faculty position, grants, promotions, tenure, and so on is
commonly and largely contingent on your publication track record. In other words, your publication
record is an indicator of your competence, commitment, and potential as a researcher.
Ş Much of the research we do is funded by agencies and organizations that receive their funding from
publIc sources. CIven Ihe role IhaI Iaxpayer money plays In supporIIng our dIscoverIes, some argue
IhaI we have an oblIgaIIon Io publIsh and share our ƥndIngs wIIh Ihe publIc.
Ş PublIshIng also helps us grow as researchers. Every publIshIng opporIunIIy Is a learnIng experIence and
provides us with an opportunity to receive an outside opinion on the relevance, rigour, and impact of
our work. Even Ihe occasIonal rejecIIon can ulIImaIely lead us Io doIng beIIer research.
Ş FInally, IIŗs a Iun IhIng Io doʖ ÌI can be very excIIIng Io see Ihe IruIIs oI our labour appear In prInI or on
Ihe ÌnIerneI, and psychologIcally II helps us move on Io Ihe nexI projecI or phase In our research.
Even Ihough Ihere are many good reasons Io publIsh, II doesnŗI seem Io sIop people Irom ƥndIng jusI
as many excuses noI Io publIshʖ Common excuses Include beIng Ioo busy, havIng poor wrIIIng skIlls, noI
having any ideas or results worth sharing, preferring to place greater emphasis on building relationships
wIIh research parIners or pursuIng oIher Iorms oI scIenIIƥc communIcaIIon, eIc. WhIle any oI Ihese
reasons may be valId Ior posIponIng publIcaIIon eƤorIs, IIŗs rIsky Ior researchers Io have a publIcaIIon
droughI Ior an exIended perIod oI IIme. DoIng so may lead Io job InsecurIIy, lack oI IundIng Io pursue or
compleIe projecIs, or an InabIlIIy Io pay salarIes Ior Ieam members down Ihe road. Ìn our vIew, IraInees
and researchers IacIng barrIers musI aI some poInI ƥnd ways Io overcome IheIr challenges and adequaIely
communicate the results of their work.

What are the generaI expectaticns fcr H5Pß trainees with respect tc scientiƩc pubIishing7
Since publishing factors into your evaluation as a researcher, it’s helpful to have a sense of what’s
expecIed oI you In Ierms oI publIshIng aI dIƤerenI sIages oI your sIudIes and research careers. Please
note, however, that publishing standards in research are rarely easy to pin down and that career paths in
HSPR vary widely. The researchers we spoke to in writing this guidebook sometimes had divergent views
on what the standards should be. That being said, here’s an attempt to present some general guidance
Ior sIudenIs aI dIƤerenI sIages oI IheIr IraInIng (ßox 1.2}:
ßcx 1.2. CeneraI pubIishing expectaticns (may vary by speciƩc ƩeId cf study]
Fcr masterśs IeveI trainees:
SIudenIs enIerIng an HSPR-relaIed masIerŗs program IypIcally have lIIIle publIshIng experIence. ÌI
you do, you’re ahead of the curve but if you don’t there’s no reason for concern at this point! Your
oIher research experIences, grades, skIlls, and IraInIng envIronmenI are more ImporIanI In your InIIIal
evaluation. As you pursue your degree, however, you hopefully will be in a position to contribute to one
or several papers as an auIhor. PublIshIng a paper as a ƥrsI auIhor on Ihe IopIc oI your masIerŗs projecI Is
consIdered a major plus In evaluaIIons as II suggesIs IhaI youŗre able Io ƥnIsh whaI you sIarIed.
Fcr PhD students:
SImIlar Io masIerŗs sIudenIs, IraInees applyIng Ior a PhD are noI expecIed Io have exIensIve
publIcaIIon records. However some experIence wIIh wrIIIng and publIshIng Is desIrable. ÌI youŗve
goI a ƥrsI-auIhor publIcaIIon In a decenI journal Ihen you may be In good shape when II comes Io
seeking a doctoral award of some kind.
Many PhD programs oƤer sIudenIs Ihe opIIon oI wrIIIng a IradIIIonal IhesIs or an arIIcle-based IhesIs.
If you’re interested in an academic career, you should consider the latter as the work involved has greater
resemblance to what you’ll be asked to do later as an independent researcher. You’ll also potentially
compleIe your PhD wIIh aI leasI Iwo or Ihree papers as a ƥrsI auIhor, whIch wIll hopeIully seI you up Ior
success aI Ihe posI-docIoral or junIor researcher levels. A producIIve PhD sIudenI may ƥnIsh hIslher
degree wIIh 5 Io 1U publIcaIIons, wIIh Ihe majorIIy as ƥrsI auIhor.
Fcr pcst-dcctcraI feIIcws and junicr researchers:
For young researchers seeking a career in academia, evaluators look for a certain level of productivity
that’s maintained over time. Productive researchers might publish several articles per year, with
mosI publIshed as ƥrsI auIhor and aI leasI some In hIgher ImpacI journals. AI IhIs level, showIng you
can esIablIsh new collaboraIIons and publIshIng wIIh dIƤerenI research groups or parIners are vIewed
in a positive light.
FinaI Wcrds
Dver Ihe pasI decades, Ihe HSPR ƥeld has grown In leaps and bounds and now occupIes an ImporIanI
place In Ihe CanadIan research landscape. As Ihe ƥeld maIures, sIandards Ior research qualIIy and
performance understandably rise as well. Many trainees we have interviewed for this guidebook say
that they often feel as though there is enormous pressure on them to publish, be productive, always
perform at a high level, etc. However, students shouldn’t be preoccupied with chasing the trendy topic
or trying to publish work they don’t care about to pad their CV. The value in publishing comes from
sharIng your dIscoverIes and Ihe research ƥndIngs IhaI you Ieel wIll conIrIbuIe Io Ihe ƥeld and make
a dIƤerence In some way. HopeIully Ihe resI oI IhIs guIdebook wIll provIde helpIul InIormaIIon
IhaI demysIIƥes Ihe publIcaIIon process and allows you Io share Ihe IruIIs oI your labour wIIh Ihe resI
of us in the HSPR community.
Trainee-mentcr reIaticnships and scientiƩc pubIishing
As a young researcher, you’re bound to encounter obstacles and uncertainties as you go through the
publication process. In order to ensure that you have the support you need to advance your work in a
timely and pain-free manner, it’s critical that you build strong relationships with your supervisors and
other individuals who can guide you.
A supervisor’s role is to guide and support your development, help you build your independence,
and maxImIze your poIenIIal In accordance wIIh your educaIIonal and lIIe goals. Ìn mosI cases, your
supervIsor has acquIred exIensIve experIence wIIh respecI Io publIshIng, oIIen Iheyŗll be able Io provIde
you Invaluable InIormaIIon and advIce abouI Ihe ŖIns and ouIsŗ oI scIenIIƥc wrIIIng and publIshIng.
However, some supervIsors are unable Io devoIe suƧcIenI IIme Io workIng wIIh IheIr sIudenIs Io help
them develop these key skills.
Whether your supervisor makes this form of mentorship a priority or not, it’s useful to broaden your
perspective about who can act as a mentor regarding publishing issues. Potential mentors can be your
peers, especially other graduate students who are more advanced in their studies, as well as other
researchers in your program or institution who have strong publication track records. Mentors might
also be people IhaI you meeI aI scIenIIƥc conIerences or IraInIng evenIs IhaI seem especIally open Io
providing occasional advice and constructive criticism. Establishing a diverse personal network of formal
and informal mentors can help safeguard against a lack of support that might hinder the progress of your
research or publIshIng eƤorIs.
Hcw can mentcrs heIp us7
MenIors IypIcally share Iwo Iypes oI experIIse: explIcIIlIechnIcal experIIse and more IacII experIIse.
ExplIcIIlIechnIcal experIIse relaIes Io IhIngs such as your menIorsŗ knowledge abouI lIIeraIure on a
particular topic or about methodological techniques that they have acquired through their studies
and careers (e.g. knowing that a particular report was written on a topic relevant to your study). Tacit
experIIse reIers Io Ihe more personal lessons, InsIghIs, and pracIIces IhaI menIors have acquIred Ihrough
IheIr experIences In academIa (e.g. knowIng how Io Irame argumenIs In a paper so IhaI II appeals Io
a specIƥc journal}. SpendIng qualIIy IIme wIIh your menIors and IappIng InIo boIh Iypes oI menIor
experIIse can be crIIIcal Io your own developmenI and success.
Here are some specIƥc examples oI how menIors can help you when II comes Io scIenIIƥc publIshIng:
Ţ 5etting a standard: MenIors can seI Ihe sIandard Ior excellence wIIhIn IheIr Ieams, pushIng
Ieam members Io achIeve Ihe same levels oI IImelIness, rIgour, scIenIIƥc InIegrIIy, and
performance as they do.
Ţ Teaching ycu the ccnventicns: Mentors have learned how the research process works and they’re
able to teach you about how to go about the “usual business” of doing research and publishing your
resulIs. For example, your menIors can help Ieach you whaI Io expecI durIng Ihe publIshIng process
or how to interact respectfully with other co-authors.
Ţ Prcviding mcraI suppcrt: DccasIonally, menIors can be Ihere Io provIde moral supporI when you
encounIer dIƧculIIes or crIIIcIsm In your research. HelpIng you deal wIIh IaIled aIIempIs aI
securIng IundIng or Ihe rejecIIon oI papers Is a key role IhaI all menIors should play.
Indeed, the trainee-mentor relationship is like any other relationship, and good mentors will be
open to discussions about the challenges you face and to devising strategies to motivate you.
Ţ Prcviding empIcyment cppcrtunities and ƩnanciaI suppcrt: Through IheIr research projecIs or
funds, mentors can provide you with opportunities to get involved in research or in the
preparation of manuscripts.
Ţ HeIping ycu manage time and pricrities: Time management and learning to prioritize your activities
are two skills that are essential to research and to publishing. Many supervisors argue that these are
key areas where students often initially struggle. Mentors are typically very sensitive to how
valuable time is and can work with students to develop their skills, focus their activities, and
limit hours lost to less important tasks.
What are cur respcnsibiIities when it ccmes tc cur mentcrs and pubIishing7
WhIle your menIors wIll lIkely play an InƦuenIIal role In your academIc career, youŗre ulIImaIely
responsIble Ior geIIIng Ihe mosI ouI oI your educaIIonal experIence. WIIh IhIs In mInd, IIŗs ImporIanI Io
consider the following advice:
Ţ 5eIect ycur mentcrs wiseIy: You should consider many factors before selecting your mentors
(especIally your supervIsors}. For example, you should InquIre abouI your menIorŗs Irack record, IheIr
availability, their relationships with past mentees, their alignment with your skills and interests, and
their ability to help you develop collaborations with other mentors outside of your relationship.
When possible, it’s helpful to ask others what they think of your mentorship options and discuss
Ihe above Issues dIrecIly wIIh poIenIIal menIors beIore makIng a ƥnal decIsIon. DonŗI be aIraId
to ask blunt questions or describe your needs honestly when you’re interviewing potential
supervisors. Such meetings are not a time to hold back or misrepresent yourself for the purposes
of making a good impression.
Ţ Take an active rcIe: As a trainee, it’s crucial that you assume ownership over your studies and allow
your supervisors and mentors to help you consider the options rather than choose a direction for
you. It’s up to them to suggest a path but up to you to blaze your own trail!
Ţ HandIe ycur business: A peI peeve oI many supervIsors Is when sIudenIs ƥnd ways Io have oIhers do
their work for them. Whether it’s doing the necessary reading, collecting the data and crunching
the numbers, or drafting a paper section, you need to be resourceful and work at becoming as
independent as possible.
Ţ 5eek cIariƩcaticn where needed: As resourceful as you may be, they are still likely to be times when
you get stuck or are uncertain about what your mentors may be asking of you. It’s important
Io be proacIIve and seek clarIƥcaIIons when you need Ihem. ReachIng ouI and havIng a clear
understanding of what needs to be done is important to avoid unnecessary delays and frustrations.
Ţ UtiIize peer mentcrs where pcssibIe: Peer mentors can be a valuable resource for any trainee. You’re
likely to spend a lot of time with your peers (e.g. over lunch, in the lab) and often they’re in a good
posIIIon Io provIde you wIIh honesI Ieedback abouI your research or oƤer hearIIelI encouragemenI.
Interestingly, one study
found that trainees who worked with other students in a group writing
seIIIng beneƥIed Irom a sense oI responsIbIlIIy, comIorI, and encouragemenI, and many were able
to use healthy and productive peer competition to their advantage.
Ţ Pay it fcrward: As you progress Ihrough your career, IIŗs a greaI experIence Io Iake on menIorshIp roles
Ior peers or more junIor sIudenIs. ThIs helps you jusI as much as II helps oIhers and puIs you on Ihe
path of learning to become a good mentor in your own right!
What can be dcne tc make the trainee-mentcrship reIaticnship wcrk weII
when it ccmes tc pubIishing7
We put this question to two senior health services researchers, Dr. Kim McGrail from the University of
ßrIIIsh ColumbIa and Dr. Sharon SIraus Irom Ihe UnIversIIy oI ToronIo. ßox 2.1 presenIs IheIr advIce.
ßcx 2.1. Advice cn trainee-mentcr reIaticnships
kim said:
Ş For students, they should learn about the policies around publication in their research team early on
and understand who can be what type of author in what circumstances.
Ş For mentors, it’s important to provide students with opportunities but not become so involved in
manuscripts to the point that the student’s own voice is lost. Mentors need to know themselves and
gaIn a sense oI IheIr own sIyle so Ihey can parIner eƤecIIvely wIIh sIudenIs.

5harcn said:
Ş For sIudenIs, IIŗs abouI learnIng Io seI objecIIves and sIIckIng Io Ihem. LearnIng Io manage IIme
and compeIIng prIorIIIes eƤecIIvely are essenIIal skIlls IhaI supervIsors may need Io assIsI
their students with.
Ş For menIors, IIŗs abouI realIzIng IhaI dIƤerenI people have dIƤerenI needs and Ihus may requIre
dIƤerenI Iypes oI assIsIance. MenIors musI deIermIne whaI a parIIcular sIudenI needs so Ihey can
help them access the appropriate guidance or support. When it comes to publishing, mentors should
provide lots of feedback and constructive criticism because writing and publishing is often
a challenge for young researchers.
FinaI Wcrds
Cood menIorshIp Is assocIaIed wIIh a varIeIy oI posIIIve beneƥIs
, and it’s important that you make
serIous eƤorIs Io InIeracI wIIh your menIors and buIld Ihose relaIIonshIps. However, even Ihe besI
mentors can’t reasonably provide you with all the guidance you need on every front. So seek out multiple
menIors and role models IhaI can help you navIgaIe dIƤerenI problems. ÌI youŗre noI geIIIng whaI
you need from the mentors in your surroundings, then it’s your duty to bring that to your supervisor’s
attention and see how they can help. No one should be shy to meet with their supervisor and discuss
mentorship issues, and your supervisor will likely appreciate being more aware of your needs. However,
it’s also important to not rely too much on your mentors for everything. Indeed, it’s up to you to steer the
ship, and allow your mentors to be the wind in your sails.
CcmmcnIy enccuntered authcrship issues
Authorship issues are important because it is through authorship that we assign responsibility and
give credit for intellectual work
. Authorship issues have implications for personal and professional
reputations, career advancement and research funding, and even the reputations of institutions.
ßeIng an auIhor on a newly publIshed paper oIIen provIdes a saIIsIyIng, even excIIIng IeelIng.
However, Ior some people Ihe publIcaIIon experIence Is unIorIunaIely bIIIersweeI or IrusIraIIng because
Ihey perceIve IhaI IheIr eƤorIs In Ihe research or on Ihe paper have noI been adequaIely acknowledged.
The collaborative nature of HSPR means that we’re often writing and publishing papers as a team.
ÌI Ihere are mIscommunIcaIIons and dIsagreemenIs around auIhorshIp, II can negaIIvely InƦuence
the relationships between and reputations of those involved. As such, it’s very important to openly
discuss authorship issues early on in the research process so that everyone involved is on the same
page and negaIIve experIences are avoIded. ßelow we descrIbe who should be consIdered an
auIhor on a paper and we explore several auIhorshIp Issues IhaI youŗre lIkely Io encounIer as a
trainee and young researcher.
Whc shcuId be ccnsidered fcr authcrship cn a scientiƩc manuscript7
ÌI used Io be IhaI dIƤerenI research groups would have very dIƤerenI polIcIes wIIh respecI Io who
could be considered an author on a paper. Talk to some of the more senior researchers around you and
we’re sure that they could share a few horror stories of unfair practices!
Increasingly though, there’s a growing consensus regarding what elements are necessary to constitute
auIhorshIp on a paper. Dne oI Ihe reasons Ior IhIs has Io do wIIh Ihe work by cerIaIn groups Io esIablIsh
crIIerIa Ior auIhorshIp In bIomedIcal journals. A good example Is Ihe Vancouver sysIem developed by
the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
. The Vancouver rules for authorship, as they’re
commonly known, have been adopIed by over 5UU journals, and Ihey sIaIe IhaI:
řAuIhorshIp credII should be based on 1} subsIanIIal conIrIbuIIons Io concepIIon and desIgn,
acquIsIIIon oI daIa, or analysIs and InIerpreIaIIon oI daIa, 2} draIIIng Ihe arIIcle or revIsIng II crIIIcally Ior
ImporIanI InIellecIual conIenI, and 3} ƥnal approval oI Ihe versIon Io be publIshed. AuIhors should meeI
condIIIons 1, 2, and 3.Ś
The rules IurIher sIaIe IhaI parIIcIpaIIon solely In daIa collecIIon or analysIs doesnŗI jusIIIy auIhorshIp,
nor does sImply provIdIng general supervIsIon over Ihe publIcaIIon process. WhIle noI all HSPR journals
subscribe to these criteria, they can serve as the foundation for an authorship policy within individual
research Ieams. Also, an IncreasIng number oI journals requIre IhaI auIhors be very clear abouI Ihe
contributions of each author on the paper, in some cases publishing this information.
Even with clear criteria, it can sometimes still be a challenge to know whether to include some people
as auIhors In cerIaIn cIrcumsIances (see ßox 3.1 Ior some IrIcky auIhorshIp sIIuaIIons}. FurIhermore, one
limit of the Vancouver and other authorship criteria is that they don’t often cover the occasionally tricky
Issue oI auIhorshIp order. The Ins and ouIs oI IhIs Issue are dIscussed nexI.
ßcx 3.1 Tricky authcrship situaticns (discuss these with ycur mentcrs and peersI]
5cenaric 1: When Roxanne was doIng her masIerŗs degree, she proposed Io her supervIsor Io wrIIe an
arIIcle around some daIa her supervIsor had acquIred buI dId noI plan Io exploII. Roxanne made a plan
for the paper, did the analyses and began drafting the manuscript. Unfortunately, she could not complete
Ihe paper beIore graduaIIng and ƥndIng employmenI ouIsIde oI Ihe healIh ƥeld. Two years laIer, ßIlly,
a new PhD student, became aware of the data and began the same process adopting a similar angle.
Roxanneŗs paper, Ihough IncompleIe, InspIred ßIlly and made wrIIIng hIs own paper much easIer. When
ßIlly compleIed Ihe manuscrIpI, he wondered wheIher he should Include Roxanne as a co-auIhor. He
IrIed Io conIacI Roxanne buI was unable Io reach her. WhaI should he do?
5cenaric 2: MarvIn Is a young researcher who has been leadIng a research projecI wIIh Iwo oIher
collaborators. Wendy is one of these collaborators and is also a good friend of Marvin. Wendy is also a
young researcher buI her ImplIcaIIon In Ihe projecI has been lImIIed because sheŗs been overwhelmed
wIIh IeachIng responsIbIlIIIes. She InIIIally IacIlIIaIed Ihe recruIImenI oI subjecIs Ior Ihe projecI buI has
been largely unavaIlable sInce IhaI IIme. MarvIn has advanced Ihe projecI enough Io wrIIe a ƥrsI paper
on results he’s particularly interested in. He decides to send Wendy the paper for her comments, even
Ihough she has lIIIle experIIse In Ihe area Iocused on In Ihe paper. Wendy reIurns Ihe paper, wIIh mInor
correcIIons Io spellIng. However, Wendy asks MarvIn II she could be IdenIIƥed as lasI auIhor on Ihe paper
because doIng so would lIkely help her be promoIed In her nexI Ienure evaluaIIon. Wendyŗs acIIons
wouldn’t ordinarily merit authorship but she is a good friend and future collaborator. What should he do?
Dces authcrship crder matter7
You beI II doesʖ And Ior many reasons. ÌIŗs commonly assumed IhaI Ihe ƥrsI auIhor on an arIIcle Is
the person who has made the greatest intellectual contribution, including taking on most or all of the
wrIIIng and conIrIbuIIng sIgnIƥcanIly Io Ihe research IIselI. DIIen, Ihe Ideas and argumenIs IeaIured In
a parIIcular paper are credIIed largely Io Ihe ƥrsI auIhor, a habII reInIorced by Ihe IacI IhaI IhIs auIhorŗs
name oIIen appears In Ihe IexI oI oIher arIIcles whenever Ihe paper Is cIIed. AssIgnIng credII Io Ihe
ƥrsI auIhor has ImplIcaIIons Ior academIc evaluaIIon, and young researchers may have major dIƧ culIIes
acquIrIng jobs or research IundIng II Ihey have no ƥrsI-auIhor publIcaIIons Io IheIr name. Also, Irom a
pracIIcal sIandpoInI, beIng Ihe ƥrsI auIhor also means IakIng Ihe lead on a varIeIy oI publIcaIIon Iasks
IhaI Ihe oIher auIhors wonŗI be responsIble Ior (see Ihe nexI secIIon}.
Another common convention is to see a more senior researcher occupy the last spot in the authorship
order. This spot can be coveted since this person may be considered the driving force intellectually
and ƥnancIally Ior Ihe research
. In some universities and funding agencies, the number of last-author
publications is considered an important metric in evaluations as it provides evidence of mentorship and
leadership. Such publications are not only important for more established researchers but also young
investigators who are in the process of building their career and research team.
AsIde Irom Ihe ƥrsI or lasI auIhor, does II make a dIƤerence where your name may appear In Ihe lIsI
of authors? Given that many researchers associate authorship order with degree of contribution, it may
be beIIer, Ihough Ihe IangIble beneƥIs oI auIhorshIp are vIrIually Ihe same Ior auIhors ranked anywhere
oIher Ihan ƥrsI or lasI. The Iwo excepIIons are when mulIIple auIhors are IdenIIƥed as Ihe lead auIhors
on a paper or when authors publish as a group (e.g. the CAHSPR Student Working Group), but these
sIIuaIIons donŗI happen Ioo oIIen and some journals donŗI permII Ihem.
What respcnsibiIities and ccnsequences ccme with being the Ʃrst authcr and
ccrrespcnding authcr7
ÌI you wanI Ihe glory IhaI comes wIIh beIng a ƥrsI auIhor Ŕ cauIIonʖ All IhaI glIIIers may noI be
gold. Ìn addIIIon Io IulƥllIng Ihe auIhorshIp crIIerIa, helshe Is generally expecIed Io Iake on a number
oI addIIIonal responsIbIlIIIes. ÌmporIanIly, Ihe ƥrsI auIhor Is expecIed Io acI as a leader wIIhIn
the authorship team when it comes to issues like obtaining ethics approval, assigning authorship,
esIablIshIng wrIIIng deadlInes, compIlIng revIsIons Irom co-auIhors, eIc. ßasIcally, Ihe ƥrsI auIhor should
be Ihe one doIng Ihe mosI workʖ ÌIŗs also ImporIanI Io recognIze IhaI, whIle Ihe ƥrsI auIhor Is usually
Ihe ƥrsI Io receIve credII Irom Ians, Iheyŗre also Ihe ƥrsI Io receIve crIIIcIsm or blame. No auIhor wanIs Io
read, řYDUR LAST NAME eI al. were IoIally wrong In IheIr analysIs oI şŚ. ThIs example may seem a
bII harsh, buI IIŗs provIded Io hIghlIghI Ihe IacI IhaI, as ƥrsI auIhor, you really do assume more
responsIbIlIIy Ior Ihe ƥnal producI Ihan oIher auIhors. FurIhermore, youŗre responsIble Ior
protecting the reputations of your co-authors, so taking the time to ensure that your product meets
hIgh scIenIIƥc sIandards Is IIme well spenI.
AlIhough Ihe specIƥc expecIaIIons vary by journal, In general, Ihe correspondIng auIhor Is Ihe
individual who assumes responsibility for receiving and responding to inquiries about the article before
and aIIer IIŗs publIshed. Helshe musI submII Ihe arIIcle, receIve Ihe responses Irom Ihe edIIorIal board,
facilitate communication among the co-authors about the feedback, submit any revisions, and work with
Ihe edIIorIal oƧce aIIer Ihe paper has been accepIed Io approve prooIs and ƥnalIze Ihe manuscrIpI.
All done? Not necessarily. Inquiries about the paper may come from readers (in the form of online
commentaries or emails) or even from the media. Again, it’s the responsibility of the corresponding
author to inform the co-authors about any inquiries and ensure they’re addressed promptly.
Who, Ihen, should be named as correspondIng auIhor? Ìn many cases, Ihe ƥrsI auIhor Iakes on Ihe
responsIbIlIIy oI beIng Ihe correspondIng auIhor. ThIs Is a naIural role Ior Ihe ƥrsI auIhor sInce hel
she presumably already has an intimate relationship with the article (and is therefore in the best
position to address questions) and has already facilitated communication among the authors during
the preparation of the manuscript. It isn’t unusual, however, for the senior author to take on the role of
correspondIng auIhor, especIally when Ihe ƥrsI auIhor Is a junIor sIudenI (e.g., MasIerŗs-level}. ThIs Is
because senIor auIhors may be more comIorIable communIcaIIng eƤecIIvely wIIh Ihe journal and co-
auIhors and would lIkely be more experIenced In dealIng wIIh posI-publIcaIIon InquIrIes. Dn Ihe oIher
hand, more senIor sIudenIs (e.g., PhD-level} could gaIn valuable experIence Irom IakIng on IhIs role.
SInce learnIng how Io eƤecIIvely communIcaIe wIIh a range oI IndIvIduals (auIhors, readers, medIa} Is a
critical skill for any upcoming researcher, this may be a perfect opportunity to develop such important
abilities while support from mentors is readily available.
What are the advantagesldisadvantageslissues cf scIc authcrship vs. grcup authcrship7
Up unIIl Ihe 155Us, sole auIhorshIp was Ihe norm Ior scIenIIƥc wrIIIng. SInce Ihen, Ihere has been
such a rIse In mulII-auIhored papers IhaI sole auIhorshIp has become Ihe excepIIon raIher Ihan Ihe rule.
This trend is partly attributed to increased pressure on researchers to accumulate as many publications
as possIble, IhIs pressure Is IelI even aI Ihe earlIesI sIages oI oneŗs IraInIng. WIIhouI a doubI, mulII-
authorship enables us all to be involved in more publications. However, there are also a number of
addIIIonal beneƥIs. For example, beIng a conIrIbuIIng member oI a mulII-auIhored paper can be a
sign to a future employer or collaborator that you work well as part of a team. Also, having your name
publIshed alongsIde esIablIshed researchers may granI you a cerIaIn level oI credIbIlIIy. DƤerIng
opporIunIIIes Ior auIhorshIp Io oIher researchers may also lead Ihem Io exIend Ihe same oƤer Io you In
the future. The concept of multi-authorship can be advantageous within a research group as it can help
IosIer cooperaIIon (raIher Ihan compeIIIIon} among IIs members Ŕ when a pIece oI work Is publIshed,
everybody wins!
Perhaps Ihe mosI ImporIanI beneƥI oI beIng parI oI a mulII-auIhored paper Ior sIudenIs Is IhaI II
allows them to contribute to larger scale research early in their careers. Today, sole authored papers
tend to be published only by well-established researchers, usually in commentary or editorial form.
Students typically don’t have the resources (e.g. data) to produce an original research manuscript
or even execuIe a hIgh-qualIIy revIew paper compleIely on IheIr own. FurIhermore, IIŗs generally
undersIood IhaI IraInees beneƥI Irom Ihe experIIse oI aI leasI one senIor collaboraIor.
Having said that, solo authored papers are not completely out of reach to students, one must simply
IhInk a lIIIle řouIsIde-Ihe-box.Ś For InsIance, sIudenIs read a loI, especIally In IheIr area oI experIIse,
and may feel compelled to respond to one of these articles in the form of a commentary or debate
article. A well-argued, insightful debate article or commentary may not only demonstrate initiative and
passIon, buI may also help prove IhaI your Ideas and experIIse exIsI IndependenIly oI your menIorsŗ.
For oIher Ideas Ior poIenIIal publIshIng opporIunIIIes, see ChapIer 1U.
What are the mcst ccmmcn authcrship prcbIems that arise and what can be dcne abcut
CIven IhaI mulII-auIhor papers have become Ihe norm, IIŗs noI surprIsIng IhaI conƦIcIs around
authorship have become more frequent. Here are some of the more common problems that can arise
Ţ Disputes cver Ʃrst authcrship and authcrship crder: Probably the most common disputes occur
because oI dIsagreemenIs over who should be Ihe ƥrsI auIhor on a manuscrIpI or Ihe order In a
lIsI oI auIhors. ÌI may happen, Ior InsIance, IhaI a more senIor researcher InsIsIs on beIng a ƥrsI
auIhor even Ihough a IraInee or more junIor researcher has made a greaIer InIellecIual
contribution to the work.
Ţ Lack cf reccgniticn: This occurs when someone’s name does not appear in the list of authors despite
hImlher havIng made an ImporIanI conIrIbuIIon Io a sIudy. A common example Is when research
assistants (RAs) do much of the ‘grunt work’ around data collection or analysis but are then not
consulted during the paper writing process. If you’re an RA, you should clarify your position with
your employer and ensure that if you want to be an author of a paper, that you can be placed in a
position to meet all the agreed-upon requirements.
Ţ Inapprcpriate cc-authcrship: This can occur in a variety of situations. More senior researchers may
assume that all publications originating within their research team should have their names on
them, regardless of their involvement in the research or manuscript. Authors may decide to
grant authorship strategically to people who don’t truly merit it as a gift to show respect or as
a means of making the paper seem more legitimate (thinking that the “big name” will help
get the paper accepted).
Ţ Chcstwriting: In this case, someone is hired to contribute substantially to the writing of a paper and is
(deliberately or not) left out of the author list for that paper. While it’s normal to have someone help
with the editing of a manuscript, ghostwriting becomes unethical when writers are paid to
wrIIe Ihe very subsIance oI a paper and Ihen pass II oƤ as someone elseŗs work wIIhouI beIng
adequately acknowledged. The practice is particularly scandalous if the ghostwriter is a
professional that is sponsored by an organization that stands to gain from the publication
(a pharmaceutical company for instance).
There are a myrIad oI oIher IacIors IhaI may lead Io auIhorshIp dIspuIes, IncludIng conƦIcIIng
personalities, power struggles or inequalities, hidden agendas, and so on. When working with a group of
auIhors Ior Ihe ƥrsI IIme, beIng explIcII aI Ihe very begInnIng oI Ihe projecI abouI Ihe plan Ior auIhorshIp
is essential. Everyone should be candid about his or her interests in getting involved and the role they
would like to play in the process. The more open and honest people are right from the start, the more
likely it is that everyone will avoid uncomfortable situations later on down the road. In the event that an
uncomIorIably sIIuaIIon ƥnds you and youŗre sIuck, IIŗs usually besI Io Iry Io work ouI problems ŖIn houseŗ
before reaching out for help from other mentors or leaders in your graduate program.
FinaI Wcrds
From a student perspective, we understand that it can sometimes be uncomfortable to discuss
authorship issues with your supervisor or with other senior researchers. However, if ever the authorship
policies in your research team or group are unclear, it’s important to put your shyness aside and spark a
conversaIIon on Ihe IopIc beIore Ihe research advances Ioo Iar or you InvesI a sIgnIƥcanI amounI oI IIme
In a projecI. Dur moIIo Is: řNo surprIsesʖŚ Make no assumpIIons abouI Ihe auIhorshIp polIcIes In eƤecI
and ask abouI Ihem dIrecIly. More oIIen Ihan noI, youŗll ƥnd IhaI people are happy Io dIscuss dIƤerenI
scenarios are very open to having students contribute to publications. If ever the policies are not what
you expecIed, aI leasI youŗll know In advance and wIll be able Io adjusI your InvolvemenI accordIngly.
Targeting jcurnaIs fcr pubIicaticn
As menIIoned In ChapIer 1, Ihe HSPR ƥeld Is mulIIdIscIplInary In naIure and as such Ihere Is oIIen a
large number oI journals Io choose Irom when seekIng publIcaIIon. ÌdenIIIyIng journals IhaI mIghI be
most suitable for your research is an important step and best done early on in the publication process.
There are many reasons Ior IhIs. A pracIIcal reason Is IhaI manuscrIpI guIdelInes vary across journals.
ThereIore, selecIIng a poIenIIal journal early helps Io seI Ihe sIrucIure oI your paper (e.g. Iype oI paper
and lengIh, number oI Iables or ƥgures allowed, eIc.}. ÌIŗs also ImporIanI Io selecI a poIenIIal journal
earlIer Ihan laIer because: 1} II Iorces you Io IhInk abouI whaI your conIrIbuIIon represenIs and who
your target audience should be, and 2) there are important consequences for you and others tied to your
choIce oI journal. We expand on Ihese poInIs below.
Hcw can we kncw hcw impcrtant cur ccntributicns are7
A stcry:
Ìn Ihe mId-155Us, a research Ieam Irom Çuebec InIIIaIed a projecI sIudyIng healIh problems among
homeless youIh In MonIreal. TheIr sIudy InIended Io examIne raIes oI HÌV InIecIIon buI aIIer several
participants in their cohort died during the study, the research team decided to add mortality rates to
the list of collected variables. After a few years of data collection, a master’s student who was part of
the research team analyzed the mortality data and shared it with her supervisor, who replied “You know
whaI? WhaI we jusI Iound Is worIhy oI publIcaIIon In IAMA.Ś The masIerŗs sIudenI wroIe up Ihe ƥndIngs,
submitted it to JAMA and it was accepted! The paper
was a major coup Ior Ihe research Ieam and
especIally IIs ƥrsI auIhor, Ihe masIerŗs sIudenI.
How dId Ihe sIudenIŗs supervIsor know IhaI Ihe ƥndIngs were oI such ImporIance? For InexperIenced
researchers, II can someIImes be dIƧculI Io know whaI your scIenIIƥc conIrIbuIIon represenIs and whaI
relevance your work has Ior your ƥeld. ÌI may be IhaI youŗve been workIng on someIhIng Ior a long IIme
and you become overcritical of your work or you simply underestimate (or overestimate) the importance
oI a ƥndIng Irom your sIudIes.
Here are four questions you can ask yourself to help you assess your work’s importance
Ş Am Ì askIng a hIghly orIgInal research quesIIon DR has my research quesIIon been addressed In
prevIous sIudIes (perhaps In dIƤerenI seIIIngs or wIIh dIƤerenI populaIIons}?
Ş Are my meIhods InnovaIIve or aI Ihe cuIIIng edge oI rIgour DR are Ihere ImporIanI meIhodologIcal
limitations in my study?

Ş Do my meIhods allow me Io be conƥdenI IhaI Ì have acIually answered my research quesIIon DR are
my methods misaligned with my research questions in some way?
Ş WIll my research lead Io a sIgnIƥcanI advance Io our undersIandIng oI Ihe research problem or ImpacI
people In an ImporIanI way DR are Ihe ImpacIs oI my research more modesI?
Working out the answers to these questions can help you assess the importance of your work and give
you an InIIIal sense abouI Ihe poIenIIal journals you should be IargeIIng Ior publIcaIIon. FIndIng Ihe rIghI
journal ƥI Ior your paper saves IIme In Ihe publIcaIIon process and opIImIzes Ihe beneƥIs oI your work
for yourself and others.
Whatśs an ŝImpact FactcrŞ and hcw impcrtant is it7
“Like nuclear energy, the impact factor is a mixed blessing”
The Ierm řImpacI IacIorŚ Is one IhaI mosI researchers are usually exposed Io IaIrly early In IheIr
careers. A journalŗs ImpacI IacIor (ÌF} Is a measure oI Ihe Irequency wIIh whIch Ihe average arIIcle In Ihe
journal has been cIIed In a parIIcular year or perIod
. The higher the number, the higher the perceived
ImpacI oI Ihe journal. ßox /.1 provIdes Ihe Iormula IhaI Thomson ReuIers uses Io calculaIe a journalŗs ÌF
for its annual Journal Citation Reports publication.
ßcx 4.1. Hcw impact factcrs are caIcuIated, using the Canadian MedicaI Asscciaticn
1curnaI (CMA1] as an exampIe
CMAIŗs ImpacI IacIor (ÌF} Ior 2U1U:
A = Ihe number oI IImes arIIcles publIshed In CMAI In 2UU8 and 2UU5 were cIIed by Indexed journals
durIng 2U1U
ß = Ihe number oI subsIanIIve arIIcles (or řsource IIemsŚ} publIshed by CMAI In 2U1U (In IhIs case,
substantive articles would include things like original research or review articles but not editorials, news
reports, Letters-to-the-Editor, etc.)
ÌF oI CMAI In 2U1U = A l ß = 5.U2¨
¨ ThIs ÌF ranked CMAI as Ihe 5Ih mosI ImpacIIul journal In Ihe caIegory oI general medIcal journals.
The ImpacI IacIor was InIended as a means Io rank and evaluaIe Ihe ImporIance oI journals Ior Ihe
research communIIy whIle elImInaIIng bIases due Io cerIaIn journal characIerIsIIcs (Ior example Ihe
amount of content they put out, their frequency of publication, their age). Journals with high IFs are
generally viewed as more prestigious and so not surprisingly the IF has become a widely used measure in
academic evaluation, including for the assessment of trainees and young researchers.
However, the IF and its use in evaluating researchers are not devoid of controversy, particularly in the
healIh servIces and polIcy ƥeld. ConsIder Iwo posI-docIoral Iellows In HSPR, ßob and LIz. ßob publIshed
a paper on Ihe epIdemIology oI and servIce needs Ior a rare Iorm oI cancer In Ihe journal Cancer Research
(ÌF = 8.23, ranked 12Ih In Ihe ƥeld oI Dncology} whereas LIz publIshed Ihe resulIs oI parIIcIpaIory acIIon
research projecI wIIh polIcymakers In Ihe journal HealIh PolIcy and PlannIng (ÌF = 1.38, ranked 6Ih In Ihe
ƥeld oI HealIh PolIcy}. When we evaluaIe Ihe achIevemenIs oI Ihese Iwo posI-docs, we can be preIIy
sure that Bob’s research and paper will be more impactful than Liz’s, right?
NoI so IasIʖ A ƥrsI poInI Io remember Is IhaI journal ÌFs vary by ƥeld oI research. For example, journals
IocusIng on cancer research Iend Io have much hIgher ÌFs Ihan journals publIshIng healIh polIcy research.
Secondly, a journalŗs ÌF Is noI a predIcIIon oI how many IImes a specIƥc auIhorŗs arIIcle wIll be cIIed,
so LIzŗs arIIcle could well be cIIed 1U IImes per year IollowIng IIs publIcaIIon whIle ßobŗs cIIed only
twice per year.
In a similar vein, one should be cautious about making assumptions about the quality of research
based on publIcaIIon wIIhIn a parIIcular journal. The parIIcIpaIory acIIon research projecI led by LIz
may have been carrIed ouI wIIh excepIIonal rIgour and may very well be as or more ImpressIve Ihan
ßobŗs epIdemIologIcal analysIs. FInally, Ihe concepI oI řImpacIŚ capIured by Ihe journal ÌF Is clearly very
narrow, In IhaI IIŗs relaIed solely Io journal publIcaIIons. However, your research can have many oIher
types of impact, such as on clinical practice, patient behaviours or outcomes, policymaking, etc.
Given the applied nature of HSPR, it seems prudent to keep this bigger picture in mind when
evaluaIIng dIƤerenI journals and papers.
Despite its drawbacks, it’s clear that the IF is here to stay for at least the foreseeable future. Why?
Ş ßecause IIŗs easIly accessIble Ior a wIde range oI journals.
Ş Because researchers are familiar with it and many consider it the best metric currently available for
measuring impact.
Ş ßecause when used properly, II provIdes us wIIh a quIck and general sense oI boIh Ihe journalŗs
presIIge and how dIƧculI II may be geI an arIIcle publIshed under IIs IIIle.
Aside from the IF, what other metrics of impact are out there? Two other citation-based metrics are
Ihe EIgenIacIor and Ihe h-Index. The EIgenIacIor dIsIInguIshes IIselI Irom Ihe ÌF by noI only consIderIng
Ihe number oI IImes arIIcles are cIIed by reIerenced journals buI also Ihe InƦuence oI Ihe journals
doing the citing
. The h-Index Is noI applIed Io journals buI raIher assesses Ihe quanIIIy and qualIIy oI
a researcherŗs scIenIIƥc ouIpuI
. The meIrIc Iakes InIo accounI Iwo maIn pIeces oI InIormaIIon: (1} Ihe
number of articles that the person has published, and (2) the number of times each article has been cited.
For example, II ßob has publIshed 1U research papers, among whIch 5 have been cIIed 1U IImes or more,
Ihen ßobŗs h-Index Is equal Io 5.
ÌIŗs also worIh menIIonIng IhaI, as more and more journals provIde onlIne plaIIorms, an IncreasIng
number of web-based metrics are being developed, including the number of online article views and
even twitter tweets or “tweetations”! All of the alternative measures named above have their strengths
but also important weaknesses. Therefore, it’s worth gaining some familiarity with these metrics so
IhaI you can beIIer assess how your journal choIce wIll ImpacI oIhersŗ percepIIon oI your research and
publishing record.
What factcrs cther than IF shcuId inƪuence cur chcice cf jcurnaI7
When we asked several well-known HSPR researchers this question, the overwhelming response was
IargeI audIence. Ìn oIher words, who needs Io know abouI your research ƥndIngs? To whom are you
really speakIng In your paper? ÌIŗs wonderIul Io IhInk IhaI your ƥndIngs have relevance Ior docIors,
nurses, administrators, policymakers, researchers, patients, the general public, and so on… and this may
really be Ihe caseʖ Some journals do have broader readershIps Ihan oIhers and so II may be possIble Io
expose your work Io mulIIple sIakeholders aI Ihe same IIme. However, mosI oI Ihe IIme youŗll probably
have Io Iocus on a parIIcular sIakeholder group or Iwo and IaIlor your message Io IhaI specIƥc audIence.
To paraphrase Kim McGrail from the University of British Columbia, if you want your paper to actually be
read by physicians in Canada, you’d better publish in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, because
IhaIŗs largely whaI Ihey readʖ Usually, a journalŗs websIIe provIdes InIormaIIon abouI IIs readershIp.
Readership can also usually be discovered by asking your supervisors, colleagues and mentors.
ÌdenIIIyIng your IargeI audIence Is also crIIIcal as II wIll lIkely InƦuence how you wrIIe Ihe paper
IIselI, IncludIng how you InIroduce your IopIc, Ihe Iypes oI argumenIs you choose and ƥndIngs or Ideas
you emphasIze, eIc. ThIs Is anoIher reason why IIŗs Ideal Io IargeI your journal early In Ihe publIcaIIon
process before too much writing gets done.
ßuI whaI do you do II youŗre lookIng aI Iwo journals IhaI have sImIlar ÌFs and sImIlar IargeI audIences?
WhaI oIher IacIors may you look aI Io help you pIck Ihe rIghI journal? Here are a Iew Ideas:
Ţ LccaI cr internaticnaI: Let’s say your research has implications for the clinical practice of general
practitioners (GPs). Is it important that Canadian GPs be aware of your research or is your work
relevanI Io a broader group oI CPs In many oIher counIrIes? ÌI you wanI your message Io specIƥcally
reach CanadIan CPs, you should IargeI a CanadIan journal such as CanadIan FamIly PhysIcIan, as
opposed Io an approprIaIe-soundIng (buI poorly IargeIed} journal lIke Ihe Iournal oI PrImary HealIh
Care, whIch specIƥcally IargeIs CPs In New Zealandʖ
Ţ Manuscript types and guideIines: DIƤerenI journals accepI dIƤerenI Iypes oI papers (see ChapIer 5}
so you wIll probably IargeI journals accordIng Io whaI you IhInk Is Ihe besI vehIcle Ior your message.
Also, guIdelInes on aspecIs such as manuscrIpI lengIh, number oI Iables or ƥgures allowed, or abIlIIy
Io aIIach addIIIonal ƥles alongsIde your arIIcle may jusIIIy IargeIIng one journal over anoIher.
Ţ Turnarcund time: There are sIgnIƥcanI beIween-journal dIƤerences In Ihe IIme II Iakes Irom Ihe
moment a paper is submitted until the paper is reviewed and sent back to the authors. This
InIormaIIon can be Iound eIIher on Ihe journalŗs websIIe or Ihrough conIacIIng Ihe edIIors. However,
you should avoid contacting editors for information that can be found on their website. Turnaround
time may be a very important factor to consider if it’s important that you have a paper reviewed or
accepIed beIore a parIIcular deadlIne (e.g. a sIudenIshIp, granI, or job applIcaIIon}.
Ţ Acceptance rate: TaIlorIng a manuscrIpI Io a specIƥc journal requIres IIme and eƤorI, IhereIore IIŗs besI
to minimize the number of times required to do this for any particular manuscript. If a paper has
been rejecIed several IImes, you may begIn Io consIder journals wIIh a hIgher accepIance raIe so IhaI
the paper has a better chance of getting published. It’s not usually a good idea to give up too soon
on a qualIIy paper buI ƥnancIal or IIme pressures may make IhIs meIrIc an ImporIanI one Io consIder.
Ţ Prcmcticn cf ycur paper: Some journals are more acIIve Ihan oIhers aI promoIIng Ihe arIIcles
Ihey publIsh. For InsIance, some journals Increase arIIclesŗ vIsIbIlIIy by hIghlIghIIng Ihem on
IheIr websIIe or promoIIng Ihem vIa socIal medIa. These eƤorIs can allow your work Io reach new
or broader audiences.
FInally, we IhInk IIŗs exIremely ImporIanI Io consIder wheIher Ihe journalŗs conIenI Is Ireely accessIble Io
all readers, accessible only to its subscribers, or something in between. The reasons for this are outlined
In Ihe nexI secIIon.
What is an ŝDpen AccessŞ jcurnaI7
RaIse your hand II IhIs has happened Io you: youŗre doIng a lIIeraIure revIew Ior a paper or projecI and
you happen to fall upon the reference for a recent article that is clearly related to your topic of interest.
However, when you Iry Io access Ihe Iull IexI oI Ihe arIIcle, Ihe journal resIrIcIs your access Io Ihe paper,
unless of course you’re willing to fork over a handsome fee for access!
FrusIraIIngʖ Why canŗI we jusI Ireely access all journalsŗ conIenI aI any IIme? Well, Ihe sImple reason
Is IhaI journals are noI esIablIshed wIIh Ihe InIenIIon oI beIng revenue neuIral. To make a neI proƥI,
journals adopI varIous busIness models, some oI whIch Involve resIrIcIIng access Io journal conIenIs. Ìn
Table /.1, we presenI Ihree maIn journal Iypes, reIerred Io here as Ihe řreader paysŚ, řauIhor paysŚ and
řhybrIdŚ models, and ouIlIne IheIr key dIƤerences. ßelow, we dIscuss Ihe ImplIcaIIons oI Ihese journal
Iypes Ior you and your choIce oI journal Io submII Io.
ŝßeader paysŞ
ŝAuthcr paysŞ
(Dpen Access]
1curnaI exampIes
HealIh AƤaIrs
PLDS MedIcIne, ßMI,
Dpen MedIcIne
Lancet, Healthcare
1curnaI media fcrmats
Usually print and web-
based formats
DIIen web-based
formats only
PrInI andlor web-based
Dwnership cf rights fcr
inteIIectuaI ccntent
Rights transferred
from the authors to the
Authors retain rights
over their work
Rights often transferred
Io Ihe journal unless Ihe
authors choose open
access option
Permissicn requests
fcr use
Must pass through the
journal or publIsher
Must pass through the
corresponding author
Usually Ihe journal buI
sometimes the author
PubIicaticn fees
Covered by InsIIIuIIonsl
individuals who must
purchase access to the
Covered by authors,
through their
institution, research
funds or other sources
Covered by InsIIIuIIonsl
individuals and possibly
the authors as well
Access fees fcr readers
Readers pay to access
articles unless covered
by their institution’s
None Ŕ arIIcles are Iree
to anyone worldwide
Readers pay unless
fees are covered by
their institution or an
open access option was
chosen by authors
TimeIiness cf access
Usually yes if your
institution holds a
subscription or the
reader is willing to
pay a Iee Ior access,
some journals Ihough
don’t publish prior to
publication date
Yes Ŕ conIenI Is
immediately available
on web often in form of
“ahead-of print” articles
Depends Ŕ can be
immediately available
or available freely after
a delay (which can be
waived if readers pay
a fee)
ArticIe fcrmatting
Restrictions on length
of articles and number
oI Iableslƥgures
Typically no restrictions
to article length and
number oI Iablesl
Typically restrictions
on length of articles
and number oI Iablesl
Pcst-pubIicaticn use
and disseminaticn
Restrictions on use
(e.g. making your paper
available on a website)
and dissemination
(e.g. may need to ask
permission to share
copies of the paper)
No restrictions
over ability to use,
disseminate, transform,
or self-archive
Restrictions vary by
journal, specIƥc journal
editorial policies should
be consulted
TabIe 4.1. Diƨerences acrcss three basic jcurnaI types
5cientiƩc quaIity
and prestige Comparable qualIIy and presIIge across journal models
Why should you care Io whIch Iype oI journal you submII your manuscrIpIs? As can be seen In
Table /.1, Ihere are consIderable dIƤerences beIween Ihe Ihree journal Iypes and each has ImporIanI
ImplIcaIIons Ior auIhors. TradIIIonal or řreader paysŚ journals are sold on subscrIpIIon Io InsIIIuIIons.
Access Io journal arIIcles Is resIrIcIed Io journal subscrIbers and payIng cusIomers. As a sIudenI, you may
be able Io Ireely access journal conIenI Ihrough your InsIIIuIIonŗs lIbrary buI IhIs access IsnŗI
really Iree, II comes wIIh a lIcensIng cosI Io your InsIIIuIIon. When you publIsh In Ihese journals,
you IransIer copyrIghIs oI your work Io Ihe journal, whIch may lImII your abIlIIy Io selI-archIve or
disseminate your papers (e.g. distribute your articles when teaching). More importantly, individuals or
InsIIIuIIons IhaI have dIƧculIy payIng subscrIpIIons or arIIcle access Iees wIll noI be able Io ImmedIaIely
access your work.
Ìn Dpen Access or řauIhor paysŚ journals, you reIaIn copyrIghIs over your work, journal conIenI Is
usually immediately made freely available online to anyone in the world after paper acceptance, and you
are unrestricted in your ability to disseminate or transform (e.g. translate into another language) your
work. The ease of access means that your paper may ultimately have a broader visibility and impact than
II II had been publIshed In a IradIIIonal journal. However, Ihe Dpen Access journal wIll ask IhaI you pay
a publication fee prior to publication that can be upwards of several hundreds (or even thousands) of
dollars. While this open access fee may seem like a disincentive to students especially, some universities
have already reached agreemenIs wIIh publIshers Io allow aƧlIaIed sIudenIs and researchers Io publIsh
aI reduced or no cosI. Ìn some cases, journals may even waIve IhIs Iee Ior sIudenIs dependIng on IheIr
ƥnancIal cIrcumsIances.
WIIh hybrId journals, you may or may noI geI Ihe besI oI boIh worlds, II ulIImaIely depends on Ihe
journal. Your arIIcle can be publIshed IollowIng Ihe IradIIIonal rouIe or, Ior an up-IronI Iee, be made
available freely on the web with some or little restrictions on post-publication use. All students should
develop Ihe habII oI readIng Ihe edIIorIal polIcIes oI Ihe journals Ihey are consIderIng so IhaI Ihey Iully
undersIand Ihe consequences oI publIshIng In Ihose journals.
FinaI Wcrds
As students, it’s important to learn how to craft a clear message when sharing your ideas and research
ƥndIngs. SelecIIng a journal Io publIsh In Is acIually a key parI oI IhaI process. Iournals are one vehIcle
by whIch your message geIs Io your IargeI audIence. For any gIven paper Ihere may mulIIple journals
Irom whIch Io choose and arrIvIng aI a ƥnal choIce IsnŗI always easy. WIIh experIence, youŗll learn Io
ƥnd Ihe rIghI řƥIŚ Ior your papers and cuI down on Ihe IIme II Iakes Ior Ihem Io ƥnd a home and
leave their mark.
CcmmcnIy enccuntered writing issues
There are many resources Io help sIudenIs learn how Io wrIIe scIenIIƥc arIIcles. However, sIudyIng
“The Elements of Style”
or adherIng Io oIher guIdes on Ihe IechnIcal aspecIs oI scIenIIƥc wrIIIng can
usually only Iake you so Iar. More oIIen Ihan noI, a varIeIy oI oIher Issues InƦuence wheIher your paper
wrIIIng experIence Is posIIIve or negaIIve.
This chapter addresses some of these other challenges that can make the actual writing phase so
daunting, especially for students who are new to the process.
What is prcper etiquette when writing papers ccIIabcrativeIy7
Your supervisor and colleagues are likely pretty busy people. Usually, they’re not only involved in their
research but also in teaching, supervising, requesting funding, doing committee work, etc. When working
wIIh Ihem on a paper, and especIally when you expecI Io be ƥrsI auIhor on Ihe paper, IIŗs ImporIanI Io
follow a certain etiquette that demonstrates respect for them and promotes a fair, collaborative writing
process. ßox 5.1 presenIs some rules oI eIIqueIIe wIIh respecI Io wrIIIng a paper In a Ieam conIexI.
ßcx 5.1 Ř Five ruIes cf etiquette when writing ccIIabcrativeIy
Hcw can ycu Ʃnd time tc write7
A major challenge Iaced by many young researchers Is eƤecIIvely managIng Ihe compeIIng demands on
IheIr IIme and ƥndIng Ihe IIme Io puI words Io paper. Here are ƥve helpIul sIraIegIes IhaI sIudenIs and
senior researchers have used to help them meet this challenge and boost their productivity:
Ţ Writing every day: Some people make writing an everyday activity, even if it means only writing for
an hour or two per day. By writing every day, progress can be made slowly but surely and a
consistent rhythm can be achieved. Another advantage is that it can prevent you from falling
into the trap of “waiting for the perfect moment to write”, a moment that, for all sorts of reasons,
usually never comes.
Ţ CcnscIidating activities in cur scheduIe: For people who have teaching, clinical, or other duties to
carry out on top of their research work, it may be possible to reorganize your activities to free up a
few hours a week to devote to writing. This may require approval of supervisors or employers and
possibly give rise to one or more intense workdays each week, but for some students it’s a step that’s
needed to create protected time to focus on writing.
1. CommunIcaIe your role as ƥrsI auIhor Io all co-auIhors Involved In Ihe paper and lead an early
discussion around authorship. This discussion can occur during a meeting and an agreement
should be reached early.
2. Provide the other authors with a timeline so that they know when you’ll be sending the
manuscript to them for feedback and when you plan to submit for publication.
3. When seeking their feedback, provide a deadline. You need to give them enough time to read the
paper and provide feedback, but also give yourself enough time to incorporate their feedback
(minimum 2-3 weeks). If necessary, don’t be shy to send out a friendly reminder as deadlines
approach. If your deadline passes and you still haven’t heard from some authors, try to speak
to them directly in person or by phone to discuss whether you submit without their feedback.
4. Do your best to gather and incorporate feedback from each co-author. If you disagree with
proposed changes, be sure Io deIend your posIIIon openly and respecIIully. Dnce youŗve
IncorporaIed IheIr Ieedback, send a ƥnal versIon oI Ihe paper you wanI Io submII Io all co-
auIhors aI leasI Iwo weeks beIore your expecIed daIe oI submIssIon.
5. When you geI a decIsIon Irom Ihe journal, make sure you share Ihe news wIIh your co-auIhors
and keep them engaged as you prepare your response. As with the initial submission, you
need Io gIve Ihem suƧ cIenI IIme Io send Ieedback, II Ihey have some, beIore re-submIIIIng
Io Ihe journal.
Ţ ßIccking cut time fcr writing: When possible, it can be helpful to reserve a series of consecutive days
devoIed compleIely Io wrIIIng. We know oI some senIor researchers IakIng enIIre monIhs oƤ IheIr
work every year in order to concentrate on writing papers. A similar, smaller-scale approach is to
devote a full week or two to paper writing every couple months or so. These “retreats” can even take
place outside of your work settings (e.g. at a summer cottage). The advantage of such approaches is
that you can focus deeply on your work and avoid distractions from colleagues or others.
Ţ Civing ycurseIf seIf-impcsed deadIines: Many people (the procrastinators!) are better at making time
to do things when there is a clear deadline for achieving them. In the case of studentships or grant
applIcaIIons Ihe deadlInes are usually exIernally Imposed and clear. However, when wrIIIng a paper
IIŗs very easy Io puI oƤ wrIIIng and Ieel IhaI Ihere are no consequences Io IhIs. A beIIer approach Is
to self-impose deadlines for your papers and commit to sending manuscript drafts to your supervisor
or colleagues by certain dates. The pressure of keeping your commitments is a great motivator to
putting time into your manuscripts and keeping the process moving along.
Ţ ŝ5hut up and writeŞ: This is not rude advice but an actual technique
! The technique involves inviting
a group of writers to a location (e.g. a cafe or library), spending a few minutes chit chatting over
coƤee, and Ihen decIdIng Io shuI up and wrIIe Ior a pre-deIermIned perIod oI IIme (usually 3U Io
6U mInuIes}. AIIer IhaI, people Iake a break and Ihen eIIher sIop or repeaI Ihe process. The group
dynamic can help facilitate the writing process and provide participants with a support system as
soon as each wrIIIng perIod expIres.
Not every approach listed here will be ideal for everyone. The trick is to discover approaches that
work Ior you and allow you Io ƥnd IhaI specIal řgrooveŚ IhaI helps you Io see a paper Ihrough Irom
beginning to end.
Hcw can ycu gc abcut crafting a cIear message7
Every arIIcle should Iell a sIory. For InexperIenced auIhors, decIdIng whaI IhaI sIory Is can be a
challenge. How Ihen do we deIermIne whaI maIn messages Io share? A ƥrsI sIep Is Io make sure IhaI
you know the literature well and that you’re familiar with some of the main narratives being circulated
by oIher auIhors. NexI, you can look aI your objecIIves and especIally your maIn resulIs and ask yourselI,
“To whom is my paper really going to be speaking ?” Knowing this helps you tailor your language and key
messages Io a parIIcular sIakeholder group. Dnce your audIence Is naIled down, you may Iry Io ƥnd Ihe
“killer graph” (or in qualitative research, the “killer quotes”) that helps build your story and
ouIlInes Ihe resI oI Ihe paper. When youŗve decIded whaI maIn ƥndIngs Io Iocus on, you can skeIch
out an outline of the article in point-form, always keeping in mind the one or two main messages you
think are most important.
A common dilemma arises when you have lots of data to present and you have to decide whether to
lump all your ƥndIngs InIo one paper or splII Ihese ƥndIngs InIo mulIIple publIcaIIons. Dn Ihe one hand,
an arIIcle IhaI presenIs several ImporIanI and relaIed ƥndIngs may be more lIkely Io ƥnd a home In
Iop-IIer journals and be consIdered a major conIrIbuIIon Io Ihe ƥeld. Such papers can be challengIng Io
wrIIe, however, and II may be dIƧculI Io Iocus Ihe paper around one or Iwo clear messages. Dn Ihe oIher
hand, breaking down the paper into smaller pieces (also referred to as “Least Publishable Units”
) can
potentially lead to several publications that, while more focused, may be less impactful.
WhIle IhIs approach has IIs beneƥIs, such as beIng able Io go InIo more deIaIls on specIƥc IopIcs
or provIde addIIIonal conIexIual InIormaIIon, II also opens you up Io crIIIcIsms Ior emphasIzIng
quantity over quality.
So, to lump or not to lump? The answer to the question depends on your circumstances and those of
Ihe research projecI. For sIudenIs early In IheIr graduaIe sIudIes, a sIngle publIcaIIon In a respecIed
journal can be consIdered a major accomplIshmenI and valued as much as or more Ihan mulIIple low-
impact publications. Drafting these types of articles forces you to determine the essential key messages
in your research and be concise, all critical skills in your development as a good writer. As you progress
and become a post-doctoral fellow or young investigator, it may begin to be appropriate to consider a
mIx oI approaches where you pursue major publIcaIIons buI also smaller ones IhaI are a lIIIle easIer Io
produce and whIch keep you wrIIIng and regularly conIrIbuIIng Io your ƥeld. Such a hybrId approach may
allow you to live up to the noble ideals of academia, while also recognizing its pressures and realities.
What are the quaIities cf a gccd abstract7
Some people treat their paper’s abstract as an afterthought. This is a mistake as abstracts are
ImporIanI and wrIIIng a good one Is one oI Ihe mosI dIƧculI IhIngs Ior any researcher Io do. AbsIracIs
musI be clear and concIse, and convey your enIIre paper In jusI a Iew words. The absIracI Is whaI aIIracIs
readers Io your paper and helps Ihem decIde II Ihey should read Ihe Iull IexI. They also ouIlIne your maIn
messages and help readers remember your key ƥndIngs. Ìn addIIIon Io beIng clear and brIeI, Ihe besI
abstracts are able to capture readers’ interest and keep their attention. Your abstract is your
ƥrsI, and maybe only, opporIunIIy Io persuade journal edIIors IhaI your paper deserves Io be
considered for publication.
Cccd abstracts are
Ţ Accurate: The content and purpose of your paper should come across clearly, and only information that
actually appears in your paper should be described.
Ţ Ccncise: Each sentence of your abstract should be carefully crafted to present the full merits of your
paper. Being concise involves:

1. RephrasIng Ideas Irom Ihe arIIcle Io condense Ihe meanIng
2. Giving information only once (not repeating yourself)
3. Avoiding sentences that contain no real information (if a sentence doesn’t move the
reader toward your purpose, leave it out).
4. Writing in clear and dynamic prose.

Ţ 5eIf-ccntained: ExcepI Ior sIandard abbrevIaIIons (Ior example, vs. Ior versus}, all abbrevIaIIons and
acronyms should be deƥned. ÌI unIamIlIar or IechnIcal words are necessary, deƥne Ihem Ioo.
Ţ Ncn-evaIuative: An abstract is not the place for personal opinions about the value of your work.
Ţ Easy tc read: AbsIracIs should be undersIandable Io people who arenŗI experIs In your ƥeld. To make
your abstract more readable, you can:

1. AvoId jargon and use compleIe, shorI senIences. ÌI possIble, donŗI omII arIIcles or oIher small
words in order to save space
2. Vary your sentence structure to avoid choppiness
3. Use the past tense when describing what was done, but where appropriate use active rather
than passive verbs
/. Check Ihe IransIIIons beIween senIences Io ensure Ihe Ʀow Is good.
Don’t forget about your abstract! Allow enough time to produce a good one. Write a rough draft, edit it
for weakness in organization, delete unnecessary information and wordiness, add important information
that is missing, strengthen your transitions, read your abstract out loud, and check and double check the
grammar, spellIng, and puncIuaIIon. Also, have your supervIsor, menIors, or a non-experI read II aI leasI
once. Your abstract shouldn’t be seen as a tedious chore in the publication process, but rather as an
integral part of the paper you’ve written.
When is a manuscript ready tc submit7
The sooner the better! It’s so easy to let an article languish while you tinker with details (or take care of
oIher prIorIIIes IhaI have ƥrmer deadlInes}. UnIorIunaIely, manuscrIpIs do noI age well.
So youŗve ƥnIshed your analysIs and adhered Io your selI-Imposed wrIIIng deadlInes. Youŗve also
gIven some IhoughI Io whIch journal youŗd lIke Io IargeI. ÌIŗs IIme Io IIe up loose ends (see ßox 5.2 Ior a
checklIsI} and send II oƤ.
DI course, Ihere are always some weaknesses In Ihe sIudy you wIsh you could address, buI you canŗI
cover everything in a single manuscript. If you have good reasons why you couldn’t address limitations in
your analysis, describe them clearly, but don’t let worrying about them keep you from clicking “submit.”
They might even give you ideas for another paper!
ßcx 5.2 - Cetting ycur manuscript ready tc submit
Cather the infcrmaticn ycu need:
Ş Check journal requIremenIs Ior IormaI, lengIh, and accompanyIng maIerIals.
Ş Familiarize yourself with the submission process (usually online but in some cases via email).
FinaIize the manuscript:
Ş Have at least one person who hasn’t been working on the manuscript read it through for clarity and
typos. It really helps to have fresh eyes!
Ş TrIple-check all Iables, ƥgures, or quoIaIIons. Make sure IhaI numbers IhaI should add-up, do.
Ş Make sure abbrevIaIIons or acronyms are explaIned aI ƥrsI occurrence (or elImInaIed II possIble}.
Ş Check IhaI page numberIng, margIns, lIne spacIng, IonI, headerslIooIers, and Ihe InclusIon oI
IdenIIIyIng InIormaIIon are consIsIenI wIIh journal requIremenIs.
Ş Ensure any Iables and ƥgures are In Ihe correcI ƥle IormaIs and are eIIher Included wIIhIn Ihe
manuscrIpI or as accompanyIng ƥles, as requIred. Check IhaI Ihe conIenI Is clearly explaIned In
captions, legends, and notes.
Ş Check the format of all references. Reference management software is a huge help, but there will be
errors that can only be caught by hand.
CcIIect materiaIs fcr submissicn:
Ş Prepare your cover letter (see Chapter 7).
Ş ÌdenIIIy relevanI key words. ÌI may be helpIul Io look aI MedlIne MESH subjecI headIngs (see Ihe US
National Library of Medicine website
) or key words used in the literature you cite.
Ş Identify potential reviewers (if required). Your supervisors or co-authors may have suggestions, or the
authors of papers you cite may be good candidates.
Ş Some journals ask Ior a secIIon descrIbIng key messages or whaI your sIudy adds.

Take a deep breaIh, and send II oƤʖ

As Ihe IllusIrIous Dr. RoberI Evans once saId, řDIsserIaIIon papers are never ƥnIshed, only abandoned.Ś
You shouldnŗI be anxIous abouI leIIIng go oI a paper, even II you Ieel IIŗs noI perIecI. Ìndeed, aI some
poInI Ihere are dImInIshIng reIurns Io addIIIonal InvesImenIs oI eƤorI In your manuscrIpIs. Learn Io leI
go and leI peer revIewers do IheIr job and provIde Ieedback Ior IurIher ImprovemenI. And when you
ƥnally do submII, celebraIe a lIIIle and enjoy Ihe IacI IhaI IhIs Is oƤ your plaIe, aI leasI unIIl Ihe glowIng
reviews come back!
What are cther usefuI DDśs and DDNśTs7
Here are several other useful tidbits passed on to us from HSPR students and researchers:
DD read closely some oI Ihe besI arIIcles In your IopIc area. ßreakIng down a classIc paper and sIudyIng
whaI makes II greaI Is a sImple buI eƤecIIve way Io Improve your own wrIIIng.
DD make II a habII oI joIIIng down your Ideas as soon as Ihey come and Ihen workIng aI developIng Ihem
further as much as you can. Good ideas can come at any time so be ready!
DDNŗT worry abouI whaI order you wrIIe Ihe paper In. Some experIs argue IhaI IIŗs besI Io wrIIe ouI
secIIons In a cerIaIn order, e.g. objecIIves, resulIs, meIhods, InIroducIIon, dIscussIon, absIracI and IIIle.
However, writing is a highly personal process and few among those we interviewed adhered to a single
approach. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.
DD pay sIgnIƥcanI aIIenIIon Io how your paper Is wrIIIen and presenIed. Even arIIcles on excellenI
research run hIgh rIsk oI rejecIIon II Ihey are poorly wrIIIen or noI persuasIve enough.
DDNŗT submII a paper wIIhouI havIng read very careIully Ihe InsIrucIIons Ior auIhors. We canŗI Iell you
how much edIIors haIe II when people Ignore journal guIdelInes, so avoId IhIs mIsIakeʖ
DD become a revIewer yourselI durIng your graduaIe sIudIes. ThIs opIIon Is parIIcularly approprIaIe Ior
more senIor IraInees who are conƥdenI In IheIr experIIse and wanI Io learn more by crIIIquIng oIhers.
FinaI wcrds
NoI every sIudenI Is a gIIIed wrIIer or can easIly express Ihemselves In words. Trouble organIzIng your
Ideas or conveyIng a clear message are common dIƧculIIes encounIered by young wrIIers. DIIenIImes
though, an inability to put a paper together in a timely way will relate less to your skill as a writer and
more Io your own uncerIaInIIes or InexperIence dealIng wIIh some oI Ihe Issues dIscussed In IhIs chapIer.
ÌIŗs ImporIanI Io IreaI each wrIIIng projecI as a learnIng experIence IhaI helps buIld your compeIence
and knowledge around publishing. Learning some of the tricks of the trade can make the process less
sIressIul and hopeIully more eƧcIenI, Iun, and successIul.
An cverview cf the peer review prccess
DurIng your graduaIe school experIence and IuIure career (academIc or noI} youŗll have Ihe opporIunIIy
Io submII manuscrIpIs Io journals and research proposals Io granIIng agencIes. Ìn each case, Ihe řpeer
revIewŚ process wIll be used Io judge and raIe your proposed projecI or compleIed research. ThIs chapIer
Iocuses on Ihe peer revIew process used by journals Io selecI arIIcles Ior publIcaIIon, buI some oI II wIll
apply to the peer review process for grant proposals as well.
Keep reading for some insight into why the peer review process is used, the main steps involved,
why II can Iake longer Ihan you expecI, how you can speed up Ihe revIew process, and whaI revIewers
are looking for.
Why peer review7
Have you ever wondered why your research, and that of well-established academics, has to undergo
scrutiny by a number of your peers? The quick answer is that it’s the primary way to ensure quality
so that the research we reference and use as foundation for our own research is original, valid, and of
high quality
21, 22
. The peer revIew process has been Ihe sIandard Ior more Ihan 3UU years. WIIhouI II, we
couldnŗI be as conƥdenI In Ihe qualIIy and relevance oI papers publIshed by a journal.
As much as we may dread having our research and writing critiqued, without peer review we’d miss out
on receIvIng valuable Ieedback IhaI ulIImaIely Improves our work. WIIh peer revIew, your ƥnal accepIed
manuscrIpI may be consIderably dIƤerenI Irom Ihe InIIIal one you submIIIed Ior revIew. ThIs Is okay.
Scrutiny by your peers often increases the relevance and reliability of your research, and hence your
conƥdence In Ihe ƥnIshed producI.
What are the main steps in the review prccess7 Why can it take sc Icng7
Just because it’s been around for centuries doesn’t mean that the peer review process is speedy or
familiar to us. The process can be broken down into three main stages. Let’s look at each stage as a
manuscrIpI goes Irom InIIIal submIssIon Io ƥnal publIcaIIon.
5tage 1 (submissicn]: This stage begins once you’ve submitted your manuscript. Assuming you’ve
Iollowed all submIssIon guIdelInes Ior Ihe journal, your manuscrIpI wIll be assIgned Io an edIIor. The
edIIor may decIde Io rejecI II ImmedIaIely or Io send II Ior Iull revIew. Some journals requIre agreemenI
Irom more Ihan one edIIor Io rejecI a manuscrIpI aI IhIs sIage.
ÌI your manuscrIpI Is noI rejecIed ImmedIaIely, Ihe edIIor musI ƥnd Iwo Io Iour peer revIewers Io
critique your paper. This stage usually takes from a week to a month, depending on the manuscript’s
topic, the availability of reviewers, and whether you have suggested potential reviewers in your cover
leIIer. EdIIors usually sIrIve Io ƥnd aI leasI Iwo researchers (preIerably more} Io revIew Ihe manuscrIpI
buI can also approach oIher experIs or polIcymakers. ÌIŗs ImporIanI Io keep In mInd IhaI poIenIIal
revIewers are doIng IhIs on a volunIeer basIs. Theyŗre oIIen busy people and, dependIng on Ihe journal,
topic, or methodologies used, there may not be a large pool of reviewers to approach.
5tage 2 (peer review]: Dnce revIewers have been chosen, your manuscrIpI moves Io SIage 2, whIch
begIns once Ihe manuscrIpI Is senI Io peer revIewers (Ihe journal may send you a noIIƥcaIIon when your
manuscrIpI enIers IhIs sIage}. MosI journals gIve revIewers a deadlIne and ask Ior a conƥrmaIIon IhaI
the reviewer can complete the process within that timeframe. If not, the editors will approach another
reviewer. Even so, reviewers may take longer to send in their comments.
Dnce all revIews are compleIe and receIved, Ihe edIIors meeI Io go over Ihe IndIvIdual revIews and
come to a decision. Editors consider not only how good the paper is now, but also how good it might
become after revision
. The possible decisions are “accept” (a rare outcome at Stage 2), “accept with
revIsIonsŚ, řrevIse and resubmIIŚ, or řrejecIŚ (see ChapIer 7}.
Larger, more popular journals (such as Ihe ßMI} generally have IasI Iurnaround IImes, whereas smaller,
more specIalIzed journals usually Iake longer. ÌI IypIcally Iakes up Io Iour Io sIx monIhs (buI someIImes
even a year} Irom Ihe IIme you submII your arIIcle Io ƥnd ouI wheIher IIŗs accepIed or, more commonly, In
need oI revIsIons (SIages 1 and 2}. RejecIIons are oIIen communIcaIed more quIckly. Turnaround IImes
depend on Ihe journal (how sIrIcI II Is wIIh IImelInes} and on revIewers (IheIr avaIlabIlIIy and how busy
Ihey are}. You can conIacI Ihe journal edIIor or ask colleagues who have submIIIed Io your chosen journal
to get an idea of its turnaround time.
5tage 3 (revisicn tc pubIicaticn]: ThIs ƥnal sIage begIns once youŗre noIIƥed oI Ihe revIewersŗ
decIsIon. ÌI Ihe manuscrIpI Is rejecIed you can choose Io submII II Io a dIƤerenI journal. ÌI revIsIons are
necessary, you’ll have to make the appropriate changes, write a letter to the editor that responds to all
the reviewer comments and points of change, and send the revised manuscript back to the editor (see
Chapter 7 for more about interacting with the editor during this time). The editor will review the revised
manuscrIpI and accompanyIng leIIer. ÌI Ihe revIsIons are noI accepIable, Ihe manuscrIpI can be rejecIed
(but this shouldn’t happen if you have addressed the reviews adequately). If the revisions are complete,
the manuscript will be accepted, sent for copy-editing, and then published at some future time.
SIage 3 can Iake Ihree monIhs or longer, dependIng on Ihe exIenI oI revIsIons needed, IIme Io
make revisions, and the time to publication. If the review of your paper is taking an unusually long
time (compared to the length of time they said it would take), contact the editors, inquire about the
sIaIus oI your paper, and explaIn why II would be ImporIanI Ior you Io hear back Irom Ihem sooner
rather than later.
Adding up the time required for each stage reveals that it can sometimes take more than 9 months from
Ihe IIme you submII your manuscrIpI unIIl you see II In prInI (longer II you have Io make major revIsIons
or have submIIIed Io a journal wIIh parIIcularly long IImelInes}.
For a Ʀow charI oI Ihe peer revIew process, check ouI Ihe CMAI websIIe (www.cmaj.calsIIelauIhorsl
ed¿process.xhIml}. The charI Is specIƥc Io Ihe CMAI, buI gIves you a general sense oI Ihe process your
manuscript will go through.
Hcw can we acceIerate the review prccess7
Authors can take several practical steps to help accelerate the review process:

Ţ Target the right jcurnaI fcr the right reascns: You can decide whether your manuscript is appropriate
Ior a journal by readIng abouI Ihe journalŗs scope or consulIIng IIs mIssIon sIaIemenI. ChoosIng Ihe
rIghI journal Ior your manuscrIpI wIll help you avoId a mIsmaIch and speed up Ihe process oI geIIIng
your work published (see Chapter 4).
Also some researchers have submIIIed manuscrIpIs aI an early sIage jusI Ior Ihe revIew and
Ieedback, compleIely aware IhaI IheIr papers wIll be rejecIed
. Don’t do this. You shouldn’t
waste editors’ and reviewers’ time in this way and delay the publication of other completed,
quality research.
Ţ FcIIcw submissicn guideIines: They’re called guidelines for a reason and are available on the website
oI any journal. Follow Ihem exacIly - IhIs canŗI be emphasIzed enough. EdIIors are amazed aI how
many manuscripts are submitted that do not meet the submission guidelines. These manuscripts are
oIIen ImmedIaIely rejecIed sImply because Ihey do noI Iollow journal requIremenIs around word
limits, formatting, citation style, and other submission guidelines.
Ţ ße thcrcugh: EdIIors and revIewers noIIce Ʀaws so donŗI be sloppy. Make sure IhaI have cleaned up
any language errors or IormaIIIng changes appearIng In your paper. Check your Iables and ƥgures,
make sure Ihey maIch your IexI and vIce versa. These may seem lIke small deIaIls, buI when Ihere
are enough oI Ihem II can Io lead Io rejecIIon.
Ţ Prepare a gccd ccver Ietter: A key element to your submission is your cover letter. You can indicate
your raIIonale Ior choosIng Ihe journal youŗre submIIIIng Io, II may noI be ImmedIaIely apparenI Ior
some research IopIcs (new meIhodology In an exIsIIng ƥeld, cross-dIscIplIne research, eIc.}. Your
cover leIIer can even suggesI poIenIIal revIewers Io choose (or noI choose}, whIch can help speed up
the review process (see Chapter 7).
Ţ Make revisicns a pricrity: Some delays in the review process are out of your control, but responding to
edIIorsŗ or revIewersŗ commenIs IsnŗI among Ihese. ÌI your paper IsnŗI rejecIed, one oI Ihe besI ways
to accelerate the review process is to make your revisions a priority and get the revised paper back
to the editors as quickly as possible. Establish timelines for your co-authors and stay on them so that
you can incorporate their feedback and resubmit quickly.
Ţ Cet exampIes cf successfuI submissicns: Journal editors suggest that students and new researchers
ƥnd examples oI a submIIIed manuscrIpI, Ihe edIIorIal response, Ihe auIhorŗs leIIer In response Io
Ihe edIIor, and Ihe ƥnal manuscrIpI wIIh revIsIons. Cood examples oI Ihese sIeps In Ihe peer revIew
process are prIceless. ÌIŗs very helpIul Io see how experIenced auIhors respond Io edIIors. A well-
organized and well-written response letter can help revised manuscripts get accepted more quickly.
Ask your supervIsor, menIors, and peers wIIh publIcaIIons Ior Ihese examples.
What dc reviewers Icck fcr when reviewing a manuscript7
You can also speed up the review process (and make reviewers happy) by knowing what reviewers
wIll be assessIng. Some basIc elemenIs IhaI revIewers look Ior are orIgInalIIy, relevance, sIgnIƥcance,
generalizability, clarity, and contribution to the target topic
. A summary of questions considered by
revIewers are provIded In ßox 6.1
ßcx 6.1 Çuesticns ccnsidered by reviewers cf ycur manuscript
Ş Is the title informative? (Use a simple, yet descriptive, title)
Ş Does the introduction frame the area of the research accurately and adequately by discussing
Ihe exIanI (yeI currenI} lIIeraIure? Ìs any lIIeraIure noI consIdered? Are conƦIcIIng
ƥndIngslvIewpoInIs omIIIed?
Ş How orIgInal and ImporIanI Is Ihe research? Does II conIrIbuIe someIhIng novel Io Ihe ƥeld? (ße
specIƥc In your InIroducIIon, explaIn whaI your research conIrIbuIes}
Ş Ìs Ihe experImenIal desIgn rIgorous? WhaI are IIs sIrengIhs and weaknesses?
Ş Is the data high quality?
Ş Are the appropriate statistical analyses used?
Ş Is the interpretation of the data appropriate?
Ş Does the discussion of the data provide valuable insights?
Ş Are the arguments sound, and the conclusions appropriate and valid?
Ş Does the manuscript stay within the word limits?
Ş Is the writing clear and concise?
Ş Are Ihe ƥgures and Iables easy Io undersIand, accuraIe, and compleIe?
Ş Are there any ethical issues not addressed?
FinaI wcrds
This quick overview of the peer review process hopefully sheds light into why it’s done, how it’s done,
and what you can do to succeed in it. Use this chapter as a guide, but don’t hesitate to talk to other
researchers Ior more advIce. Try Io become a revIewer (every journal has dIƤerenI ways oI recruIIIng
potential reviewers) and learn how to do it. If you can constructively critique the work of others you will
be beIIer able Io see Ihe gaps and Ʀaws In your own research and wrIIIng.
Interacting with editcrs and reviewers, and deaIing with criticism
ThroughouI your IIme as a sIudenI and durIng your career, you wIll have sIgnIƥcanI InIeracIIon wIIh
edIIors and revIewers oI academIc journals. These InIeracIIons can unIorIunaIely be a mIneƥeld, IhIs
chapter outlines how to successfully navigate it. It will present the important points of how and how not
to interact with both reviewers and editors, what to do when you disagree with a reviewer’s assessment,
and how Io handle Ihe rejecIIon oI a manuscrIpI.
What shcuId I incIude in my ccver Ietter tc the editcr7
Cover letters are usually between a half page to a full page in length. To know what to include in your
leIIer, sIarI by checkIng Ihe journalŗs requIremenIs, as mosI journals wIll be explIcII abouI whaIŗs needed.
Generally, your letter will need to include the following elements:
Ş Name, address, and contact details for the corresponding author.
Ş A description of your study.
Ş ÌnIormaIIon abouI Ihe ImporIance oI your sIudy and whaI II adds Io Ihe exIsIIng lIIeraIure.
Ş A summary oI your objecIIves, meIhods, and your mosI ImporIanI resulIs.
Ş A brIeI sIaIemenI abouI why your sIudy Is ImporIanI Io Ihe journalŗs specIƥc audIence.
Ş ConƥrmaIIon IhaI all sIudy co-auIhors read and approved Ihe ƥnal versIon oI Ihe arIIcle.
You may be asked Io Include a conƦIcI oI InIeresI declaraIIon, sIgned by Ihe correspondIng auIhor only,
or by all sIudy auIhors. Some journals also ask IhaI you submII a lIsI oI poIenIIal revIewers wIIh your
cover leIIer. ße sIraIegIc abouI who you suggesI. They should be knowledgeable abouI Ihe specIƥc area
your work Ialls wIIhIn. However, II you choose an experI In Ihe ƥeld, IIŗs possIble helshe wIll pass Ihe
review on to a student, and students are more likely to be overzealous in their criticisms!
ÌI youŗre submIIIIng a paper IhaI has been prevIously rejecIed elsewhere, you can consIder IncludIng
prevIous revIews In your cover leIIer because Ihey can be helpIul Io Ihe nexI seI oI revIewers, reduce
duplication of comments, and demonstrate how you have improved the manuscript since your last
submission. If not formally requested, it’s a good idea to check with the editor about whether you should
include them or not. If you choose not to include previous reviews, it can be valuable to comment upfront
on weaknesses IdenIIƥed Irom a prevIous revIewer wIIh Ihe goal oI pre-empIIng poIenIIal crIIIcIsm by
Ihe new revIewers. For example, perhaps a revIewer poInIed ouI IhaI you used a measuremenI Iool IhaI
helshe doesnŗI lIke and suggesIed IhaI you use a dIƤerenI Iool InsIead. Ìn your nexI submIssIon, Include a
paragraph about why you selected your tool and not the initial reviewer’s preferred measure.
Lastly, although it can be tempting to do so, avoid duplicating your abstract in your cover letter. Journal
edIIors wIll read your paper (or aI leasI your absIracI} beIore sendIng II oƤ Io peer revIew, and Ihe
duplication will be both obvious and irritating.
I submitted my paper and havenśt heard anything. Ncw what7
Peer review can be slow, often lasting several months (see Chapter 6). It will likely take much longer
than you hope it will. If you’re unsure about average turnaround times and this information is not
avaIlable on Ihe websIIe, you can emaIl Ihe journal dIrecIly Io know whaI Io expecI. Dnce youŗve
submIIIed, Ihe journal may send you a conƥrmaIIon noIIce IndIcaIIng IhaI your arIIcle has been passed on
Io peer revIewers, you can use IhIs opporIunIIy Io InquIre abouI Ihe journalŗs average Iurnaround IImes.
LasIly, Ihereŗs noIhIng wrong wIIh conIacIIng a journal edIIor Io polIIely InquIre abouI where your
paper Is In Ihe peer revIew process and when you may expecI a response. For journals wIIh an onlIne
submission process, this information is usually easily available once you log in to the system.
What kind cf respcnse can I expect7
As menIIoned In ChapIer 6, you can expecI Ihe IollowIng responses:
Ţ Accept: ÌIŗs excepIIonally rare Ior a journal Io accepI an arIIcle as Is on IIs ƥrsI submIssIon. Even
when an article is commissioned, revisions are typically requested. Thus, you shouldn’t go into a
submIssIon process expecIIng any journal Io accepI your InIIIal submIssIon.

Ţ Accept, with revisicns: ReceIvIng an accepIance wIIh revIsIons Irom a journal Is cause Ior celebraIIon.
If this happens, you should focus on those revisions as soon as possible because your chances of
successfully publishing your work are now very high. If you revise your article as per the editors’
request, it will be published, yay! In this case, the peer reviewers are unlikely to see your article
agaIn. ÌnsIead, youŗll communIcaIe dIrecIly wIIh Ihe journalŗs edIIors who wIll handle your revIsIons.
Ţ ßevise and resubmit: If more substantial revisions are required, you may receive a request to resubmit
your arIIcle. PublIcaIIon In Ihe journal Is noI guaranIeed, buI your chances are sIIll good. As wIIh an
acceptance with revisions, you should focus on getting the requested revisions completed as soon as
you can. Aim to have the revision done within a month or two at most. Typically, once your revisions
are complete, your article will be sent back to the original reviewers, who will have been asked to re-
review the article. If you’ve addressed all their criticisms, your article will be accepted and published.
In some cases, however, the editors will elect to send the article to a new set of reviewers or will
review your revisions themselves. It’s in your best interest to ask the editor whether your article
will be sent back to the same reviewers. Editors or a new set of reviewers will likely be more lenient
about whether you‘ve integrated all the comments from the original review.
You’re not obligated to resubmit your article, especially if you feel that the reviewer’s comments
are not reasonable or feasible to address. However, it’s almost always in your best interest to
resubmit when you’re given the opportunity to do so. Your chances of successfully publishing the
arIIcle wIIh Ihe orIgInal journal are much hIgher Ihan II you sIarI Irom scraIch wIIh a new journal.
Ţ ßeject: No one lIkes Io hear IhaI IheIr paper has been rejecIed, buI II happens Io everyone, IncludIng
Ihe mosI respecIed scholars. SuggesIIons Ior why your paper mIghI have been rejecIed are dIscussed
below. You have Iwo opIIons when dealIng wIIh Ihe ouIrIghI rejecIIon oI a paper. ÌI you dIsagree
with the reviewers’ criticisms, you’re free to write the editor back and request a re-review (very
uncommon buI an opIIon II Ihere really Is no oIher journal maIch Ior your paper}. AlIernaIIvely, you
can choose Io submII your arIIcle Io anoIher journal (Ihe more common response}.
My paper has been acceptedI What ncw7
FIrsI IhIngŗs ƥrsI: CongraIulaIIonsʖ You should deƥnIIely do someIhIng Iun Io celebraIe your successʖ
The journal wIll send you a prooI, whIch Is a draII oI how your paper wIll appear In Ihe journal. Read Ihe
prooI careIullyʖ ThIs Is your lasI chance Io make mInor changes and ƥx any Iypos. You may also be asked
Io sIgn a conƦIcI oI InIeresI waver aI IhIs IIme II you havenŗI done so already. Also, II youŗre publIshIng
along the traditional route you and your coauthors may be asked to sign a copyright transfer agreement,
so you’ll have to collect some signatures. Plan ahead for this step if you’re publishing with people
workIng In dIƤerenI geographIc locaIIons, as orIgInal sIgnaIures are usually needed. LasIly, and mosI
importantly, update your curriculum vitae (CV) right away. You’ll thank yourself for being vigilant with CV
updaIes Ihe nexI IIme youŗre applyIng Ior a sIudenIshIp or granI.
Hcw dc I respcnd tc requests fcr mincr cr majcr revisicns7
AI ƥrsI glance, a revIewerŗs suggesIed revIsIons may look daunIIng. ÌI can be helpIul Io creaIe a Iable or
spreadsheeI wIIh a lIsI oI all Ihe revIsIons, Ihe dIƧculIy level oI each requesI (Irom easy Io challengIng},
and your plan Io Iackle Ihem (see Table 7.1}. ßegIn by rereadIng Ihe paper and makIng some oI Ihe easIer
revisions. This will help you re-familiarize yourself with the article you likely haven’t looked at for several
monIhs and wIll make IacklIng some oI Ihe more challengIng revIsIons jusI a lIIIle bII easIer.
When you are responding to reviewers’ comments, make sure you address each point completely! In
the cover letter that accompanies your re-submission, address each comment in sequence and indicate
specIƥcally where In your paper (page, paragraph, senIence} you have made Ihe necessary adjusImenIs.
Make II easy Ior Ihe edIIor and revIewer Io see exacIly where and how youŗve responded Io Ihe revIews.
It may also be helpful to share your revised paper with colleagues to gain insight on whether you’ve
adequately addressed reviewers’ concerns.
TabIe 7.1. ExampIe cf Śßespcnse tc ßeview TabIeś fcr twc reviewers (A, ß]
ßeviewer ccmments Diƫ cuIty ßespcnse
A.1: ThIs Is an InIeresIIng
article that addresses a topic
oI ImporIance Io Ihe ƥeld.
Dne ImporIanI concern Ì have
however Is IhaI Ihe objecIIves
are poorly worded and the true
purpose of the paper is unclear.
The results the authors present
do not seem to match the
intentions they lay out in their
Currently the paragraph
conIaInIng our objecIIves reads:
řDur aIms wIIh IhIs sIudy were
This paragraph has been revised,
and now reads: řThe ƥrsI
objecIIve oI IhIs sIudy was IoşŚ

A.2: The two scales the authors
used to measure health service
quality seem to produce
contradictory results. How do
Ihe auIhors explaIn IhIs?
The following sentence has
been added to the discussion
section: “The two scales used
to measure service quality have
been shown in previous studies
Io assess somewhaI dIƤerenI
aspecIs oI qualIIy, wIIh Ihe ƥrsI
ß.1: ThIs Is an InIeresIIng sIudy.
However, the authors seem to
only have used patient reported
data for their assessments
of service quality. Given the
authors’ close links with service
providers, couldn’t medical
records be used to verify the
accuracy of patient reports?
The following sentence was
added to the discussion section:
řDne lImIIaIIon Io our sIudy Is
that indicators of service quality
were based solely on patient
reported data…”
ßcx 7.1. 5peciaI case: ŝYcur articIe is tcc IcngŞ
ÌIŗs noI uncommon Ior an edIIor Io requesI IhaI you shorIen your paper sIgnIƥcanIly. ThIs can
sometimes be a challenging task, especially since addressing reviewers’ questions and concerns often
involves lengthening sections of the article. So, how can you tackle this?
Ţ First: Do a read-Ihrough exclusIvely Ior economy oI language, reIormulaIIng senIences and cuIIIng
down wherever possible.
Ţ 5eccnd: Consider eliminating a nonessential paragraph in its entirety. Typically, the Discussion and
Background sections are the best places to do this.
Ţ Third: Your reIerences In Ihe IexI someIImes counI as words, so Iake a look aI Ihem and make sure
you’re not citing papers unnecessarily.

Ţ Fcurth: Pass your article to a colleague and ask them to identify additional sections or sentences they
feel aren’t essential to the article.
Ţ Fifth: Dnce youŗve shorIened Ihe paper, read II Ihrough careIully Io ensure IhaI Ihe paperŗs Ʀow
remains intact.
What if the reviewers are wrcng7
Remember that peer reviewers are volunteers, and they’re human (most of them anyways!). Mistakes
are made. So, be on your besI behavIor when wrIIIng your response Io Ihe revIews, be polIIe and IhankIul
even when you completely disagree with a reviewer’s comments. If you disagree with a change request,
buI Ihe requesI Is mInor, easy Io ImplemenI, and does noI aƤecI Ihe scIence oI your manuscrIpI, IIŗs
probably best to acquiesce and make the change.
That said, you’re not obliged to incorporate every change suggested by the reviewers. For instance, if
you fundamentally disagree with a reviewer’s suggested change and elect not to accept it, you should
explaIn IhoughIIully why IhaI aspecI oI your paper should go unchanged and supporI your argumenI
wIIh evIdence. ÌI Ihere IsnŗI any evIdence, seek ouI Ihe advIce oI an experI In your ƥeld, and cIIe IhaI
communication as evidence. It’s also more polite to validate the reviewer’s point of view before you
make a case Ior your posIIIon (e.g., řThe revIewerŗs poInI Is well Iaken, however, we Ieel sIrongly IhaIşŚ}.
Ìn your leIIer Io Ihe edIIor, you musI explaIn how you responded Io each oI Ihe revIewersŗ commenIs. ÌIŗs
one thing to disagree with a suggestion or two, but dismissing every comment from a reviewer shows a
close-mIndedness IhaI IsnŗI usually apprecIaIed by journal edIIors.
Why was my paper rejected7
There are many reasons why a journal may rejecI a paper. ßeIore your arIIcle Is even senI Io peer
revIew, an edIIor may rejecI II on Ihe grounds IhaI II IsnŗI relevanI Io IheIr journalŗs readershIp, hasnŗI
been prepared accordIng Io IheIr guIdelInes Ior submIssIon (Ior example, IIŗs over Ihe lengIh lImIIs},
or because they feel it doesn’t make enough of a substantive contribution to the knowledge base for
Ihe journalŗs ƥeld.
Dnce II has been senI on Io peer revIew, your arIIcle may be rejecIed Ior a hosI oI dIƤerenI reasons.
Most of these revolve around inappropriate or incomplete methodology. This includes incorrect use of
sIaIIsIIcal meIhods, a small or bIased sample, Ʀaws In Ihe sIudy desIgn, InapproprIaIe InsIrumenIaIIon,
or Ihe over-InIerpreIaIIon oI resulIs. AddIIIonal Ʀaws Include lack oI clarIIy around sIudy objecIIves,
an InadequaIe or ouIdaIed lIIeraIure revIew, InsuƧcIenI daIa presenIaIIon, poor ƥgures or Iables, or
generally poor writing.
My paper has been rejected. What ncw7
As menIIoned above, when your paper Is rejecIed, you generally have Iwo choIces: you can wrIIe Ihe
journal edIIors Io appeal Ihe orIgInal decIsIon and ask Ior a new revIew, or you can submII elsewhere.
ÌIŗs very unusual Ior edIIors Io granI re-revIews, so unless youŗre exIremely conƥdenI IhaI Ihe orIgInal
reviewers were incorrect or biased in their criticisms, the best option is to improve your article and
submit it elsewhere.
Make sure you consider all the comments made by the reviewers before you submit your article
agaIn. We oIIen Ieel a knee-jerk reacIIon Io dIsmIss commenIs IhaI we Ieel are oƤ-base or Ill-InIormed.
However, II a revIewer In your ƥeld doesnŗI undersIand your paper, Ihen Ihere Is lIkely room Ior you Io
clarIIy your wrIIIng. Ìndeed, IncorporaIIng revIsIons InIo a rejecIed paper usually dramaIIcally Improves
its quality! And there is always the possibility that the same reviewer will be asked to referee your
arIIcle, even when you submII Io a new journal. HealIh servIces and polIcy research In Canada Is a small
community after all!
FinaI wcrds
As a student and a researcher, you’ll interact with editors and peer-reviewers on a regular basis
throughout the publishing process. This overview covers a few of the most common issues and questions
related to how best to manage these interactions, thereby increasing the likelihood of your paper being
accepIed Ior publIcaIIon. Remember IhaI almosI every paper wIll requIre revIsIons beIore IIŗs ƥnally
accepIed, and mosI wIll Iace a rejecIIon or Iwo. DonŗI be dIscouragedʖ Take Ieedback serIously, and
respond thoughtfully and courteously to editors and reviewers. You won’t always like what reviewers
have to say about your work, but there’s almost always something you can learn from their comments.
PubIishing quaIitative research

If you’re newly entering an HSPR-related training program, you’ll typically meet little resistance if you
decIde Io pursue a qualIIaIIve research approach Ior your research projecI. You may noI realIze IhaI II
wasnŗI Ioo long ago IhaI such approaches were wIdely dIsmIssed as less rIgorous or even unscIenIIƥcʖ
Nowadays, aIIIIudes have begun Io change due Io serIous advocacy eƤorIs and educaIIon around
qualitative traditions and methods. However, despite this evolution in attitudes, qualitative researchers
still face some unique issues when seeking to publish their work.
Whatśs diƨerent when pubIishing quaIitative research7
The basIc sIeps Involved In publIshIng qualIIaIIve research are no dIƤerenI Ihan Ihose Involved In
publIshIng quanIIIaIIve work. You musI do Ihe research, IargeI a journal, wrIIe your paper, submII II, and
revise it based on the comments made by reviewers.
Several Issues, however, may make Ihe experIence oI publIshIng resulIs Irom your qualIIaIIve sIudy
qualIIaIIvely dIƤerenI compared Io publIshIng oIher Iorms oI research. Here are a Iew examples:
Ţ Ccntributicn ccnsideraticns: Dur research can allow us Io conIrIbuIe Io our ƥelds In a number oI
ways. We can advance knowledge or theory, invent new methods, or provide potential solutions to
recurrIng challenges. When doIng qualIIaIIve research, we oIIen also delve deeply InIo unexplored,
complex problems and geI Io know Ihe people IacIng Ihese problems. We may Ieel oblIgaIed Io
expose unIaIr pracIIces, emancIpaIe oppressed IndIvIduals or groups, or Iry Io evoke an emoIIonal
response in readers that may lead to positive actions
. Try and remember that you may not be able
to accomplish each of these goals at once and that you should determine what main purpose your
paper serves prior to writing it.
Ţ Targeting a jcurnaI: Dver Ihe pasI Iwo decades an IncreasIng number oI journals have opened IheIr
doors Io qualIIaIIve research. However, whIle you may noI have a hard IIme ƥndIng a maInsIream
HSPR-relaIed journal IhaI accepIs qualIIaIIve research papers, geIIIng your work publIshed In Ihese
journals, especIally hIghly ranked ones, Is usually a whole oIher sIory. RecenI sIudIes examInIng
journal publIcaIIon raIes have revealed IhaI beIween 1558 and 2UU8 qualIIaIIve arIIcles accounIed
Ior less Ihan 1U% oI orIgInal research arIIcles In HSPR and managemenI journals and beIween 1
and 6% oI arIIcles In Ihe Iop general medIcal journalsʖ
28, 29
These numbers indicate that positivist
worldviews still predominate the publishing landscape and that qualitative research remains
somewhat marginalized in medical and HSPR communities.
PublIshIng In some maInsIream HSPR journals can also be a challenge because oI Ihe naIure oI
qualIIaIIve arIIcles, whIch oIIen aIm Io provIde rIch, conIexIual descrIpIIons oI people or IhIngs, or In-
depIh exploraIIons InIo evenIs or peopleŗs experIences. ÌI can be hard Ior auIhors, especIally novIce
ones, Io ƥI Ihese deIaIls InIo IheIr papers when a journal Imposes a relaIIvely low word lImII Ior IIs
arIIcles (e.g. 25UU Io 35UU words}. SImIlarly, II you use a meIhodologIcal approach IhaI may be less
common (e.g. phenomenology, meta-synthesis), you’ll need to use valuable space to describe the
approach Io readers unIamIlIar wIIh II. Dpen access journals havIng no word lImIIs are an aIIracIIve
option for qualitative papers, but paying the fees for publication can pose problems for some
authors. Taken together, authors of qualitative research articles may have fewer options available to
Ihem when II comes Io ƥndIng Ihe rIghI journal Ior IheIr papers.
Ţ Crafting a cIear message: Settling on one or two main messages to build your article around can be
a sIgnIƥcanI challenge Ior qualIIaIIve researchers, especIally InexperIenced ones. WIIh all your
InIervIews or Iocused groups compleIed, documenIs analyzed, andlor observaIIons and personal
reƦecIIons joIIed down, youŗre now Iaced wIIh mounIaIns oI paper Io sIII Ihrough and InIerpreI. As
most people who have done qualitative research can attest to, you’ll likely discover so many new and
interesting things during the process that everything seems important and worth reporting about!
SynIhesIzIng your ƥndIngs and exIracIIng Ihe key messages can be really Iough and IIme-consumIng
and usually requires assistance from your mentors. Similarly, making decisions about whether to
reporI ƥndIngs as a sIngle arIIcle or mulIIple ones Is also a rouIIne challenge. ÌI you decIde Io dIvIde
your papers up, draft a good, detailed plan for each one in advance so that you’re sure that they each
report something original and meaningful without overlap.
Ţ ßeviews and revisicns: WhIle many journals are now able Io access revIewers wIIh experIIse In
qualitative research, if you’ve adopted a design or approach that may be less commonly applied
In HSPR II may Iake longer Io ƥnd a revIewer wIIh knowledge oI IhaI approach and IIŗs probably
unlIkely IhaI Iheyŗll be experIs In your specIƥc research IopIc on Iop oI IhaI. SImIlarly, some
qualitative methods are new and evolving (e.g. realist reviews, meta-syntheses) and it can be
challengIng Ior some journals Io undersIand Ihese meIhods, provIde qualIIy revIews, and ulIImaIely
publish your paper.
If your paper does receive an appropriate peer review, it can happen that you’ll be asked to
plunge back into your data, make new interpretations, and bolster arguments or areas of your paper
that were weak. If the delay between the times you submitted your paper and received your review
Is long, II can be dIƧculI Io geI back InIo Ihe rIghI ŖmIndseIŗ Io make Ihe approprIaIe revIsIons. Such
revisions may be time-consuming as well if your data isn’t well organized and you have to search for
Ihemes or quoIes among dozens oI parIIcIpanIs. ÌI you IargeI a journal wIIh longer Iurnaround IImes
for your qualitative paper, you might want to touch base with your data every so often so that your
analysis stays fresh in your mind.
What are scme ccmmcn mistakes authcrs make when trying tc pubIish quaIitative
Perhaps Ihe sIngle mosI ImporIanI reason why we mIghI have dIƧculIy publIshIng qualIIaIIve research
stems from our own lack of competence with qualitative epistemologies and methods. Learning from
more experIenced researchers abouI IheIr experIences In publIshIng qualIIaIIve sIudIes can Improve our
knowledge and help us avoid common mistakes. Below we present such wisdom as well as advice from
the broader literature:
Ţ Dcnśt try tc gc it aIcne (frcm 1can 5argeant]: Doing qualitative research can be a long and sometimes
tricky process. The process is made even longer and trickier when the proper supports are not
avaIlable Io us when we have quesIIons or encounIer dIƧculIIes. ÌIŗs ImporIanI IhaI IraInees
InexperIenced wIIh qualIIaIIve research have a menIor Ihey can reach ouI Io In such sIIuaIIons.
Even Ihose wIIh prevIous qualIIaIIve research experIences should have such a person avaIlable Io
Ihem as each new projecI presenIs IIs own unIque challenges. ÌIŗs a good habII Io seek ouI oIhers
who are doing qualitative research and engage them in discussion about their work and your own.
Not only might you establish a mentoring relationship but you could also become involved in
oIher new projecIs.
Ţ ße cIear abcut ycur methcds (frcm Wendy 5wcrd]: First, right from the beginning of your research,
you should have a clear idea as to the type of methodology you plan to use in your study and the
IheoreIIcal perspecIIve IhaI InIorms IhIs meIhodology. For example, Is your sIudy a case sIudy? Are
you doing ethnographic or grounded theory research? Is your worldview constructivist, postmodern,
or realist? It’s important that your methodology is clearly stated and that your theoretical approach
matches your research questions and methods. Making statements such as, “A qualitative method
was usedşŚ In a paper Is InsuƧcIenI, your sIudy desIgn should be explIcIIly sIaIed (e.g. consIrucIIvIsI
grounded theory).
Second, not only is it important to provide details about the methodology and theoretical
framework you’ve used but you must also clearly indicate other information about methods,
such as recruitment and sampling strategies, approach to data collection and analysis,
sample interview questions, etc. Without such information, no other researcher is able to
replicate your study.
Ţ Dcnśt present data withcut ccntext cr interpretaticn (frcm Wendy 5wcrd]: Thorne wrote, “Data do not
speak for themselves.”
Ìndeed, IraInees can someIImes ƥnd II a challenge Io InIegraIe
quoIes and oIher Iorms oI qualIIaIIve daIa eƤecIIvely In a paper. Ìn a resulIs secIIon, Ior example,
it’s not ideal to overuse quotes while providing little interpretation or assume that a particular
quoIe řsays II all.Ś RaIher, quoIes need Io be placed In conIexI and each should serve Io IllusIraIe
a poInI beIng made. AuIhors musI provIde suƧcIenI conIexI and InIerpreIaIIon Io allow readers
to gain a deeper understanding of what the participants are saying and how it sheds light on the
research topic of interest.
Ţ Dc ycur hcmewcrk (frcm MariIyn MacDcnaId]: As menIIoned, noI all journals publIsh qualIIaIIve
research. ÌIŗs very dIshearIenIng and IIme-consumIng Io wrIIe a manuscrIpI and submII II Io a journal
only Io ƥnd IhaI Ihey do noI accepI reporIs Irom qualIIaIIve sIudIes or IhaI you have noI meI IheIr
guIdelInes In some way. ÌIŗs crIIIcal Io read Ihe guIdelInes Ior auIhors oI all oI Ihe journals youŗre
IhInkIng oI IargeIIng and also helpIul Io look Ihrough Ihe conIenIs oI Ihe journals Io see how oIIen
qualitative research studies are published. Finding studies similar to your own published in a
parIIcular journal Is a good sIgn IhaI your paper Is approprIaIe Io submII and IhaI Ihe journal edIIors
have revIewers wIIh Ihe experIIse Io peer-revIew your work.
Ţ 5tay ŚcccIś abcut criticism (5ara kirk]: You’ve spent countless hours reading transcripts, meticulously
organizing and analyzing data and writing a thoughtful paper… only to be harshly criticized by
a revIewer oI Ihe journal you submIIIed your paper Io. DoIng qualIIaIIve research can be a very
personal process and crIIIcIsm and rejecIIon can hurI In Ihese cIrcumsIances. WhIle IhIs IeelIng
is understandable, it’s important not to let this feedback deter you. We need to be open to
such feedback both before and after submission so that our work can be deemed an important
conIrIbuIIon Io people oIher Ihan jusI ourselves.
Ţ Write cIearIy and creativeIy: Several authors have argued for greater clarity and creativity in reporting
results from qualitative research
31, 32
. Language and Ʀow Iake on added ImporIance In a qualIIaIIve
research article and it’s important to present your results in a logical manner to build your arguments
and make your ƥndIngs more convIncIng. AdopIIng a ƥrsI-person voIce IhaI allows your personalIIy
Io shIne Ihrough and does jusIIce Io your sIudy parIIcIpanIs Is oIIen desIrable and helps readers
connecI wIIh your IexI.
FinaI Wcrds
Rather than beginning with a hypothesis to be tested or proven, qualitative research typically begins
wIIh an Idea or IopIc and moves Ioward a hypoIhesIs as Ihe research progresses, gaIherIng a sIgnIƥcanI
amounI oI InIormaIIon along Ihe way. Such research helps us gaIn a beIIer undersIandIng oI Ihe complex
world we live in. Similarly, HSPR often begins with a problem and moves toward a potential solution.
ÇualIIaIIve research has much Io oƤer Ihe HSPR ƥeld and hIgh-qualIIy papers deserve a place among Ihe
mosI hIghly ranked journals In our ƥeld.
PubIishing within research prcject Iife cycIes
As in other academic disciplines, life as a health services or policy researcher tends to have a certain
cyclIcal Ʀavour Io II. Dn a regular basIs, researchers musI generaIe Ideas Ior new research projecIs,
IdenIIIy collaboraIors, apply Ior IundIng, waII Ior decIsIons, manage Ihe award, carry ouI Ihe projecI,
and ensure IhaI Ihe resulIs are dIssemInaIed eƤecIIvely. As projecIs wInd down, Ihe cycle begIns agaIn
In Ihe hopes oI achIevIng new goals, generaIIng new knowledge, and eƤecIIng new change. FaIr or noI,
publIshIng plays a pIvoIal role In makIng Ihese cycles happen. UnIIl recenIly, Ihe norm was Ior scIenIIƥc
communications to occur mostly at the end of each cycle. Today, however, with increased competition
In publIshIng and IundIng, many oI Ihe Iop researchers have become adepI aI publIshIng dIƤerenI Iypes
oI papers aI dIƤerenI sIages oI Ihe projecI lIIe cycle. The purpose oI IhIs chapIer Is Io explore how
creaIIvIIy and plannIng can open up sImIlar possIbIlIIIes Ior IraInees and help you gaIn more experIence
with publishing and enhance your productivity.
What types cf articIes are avaiIabIe tc us in the H5Pß ƩeId7
Publishing the results of original research is the predominant form of publishing in peer-reviewed
journals. However, IIŗs a mIsIake Io IhInk IhaI one necessarIly needs Io have research resulIs, hard daIa oI
some kind, to be able to publish. There are many alternatives to consider that can allow you to get your
publIshIng IeeI weI. A lIsI oI Ihe mosI common Iypes oI scIenIIƥc arIIcles Is provIded In box 5.1.
ßcx 9.1. Ccmmcn types cf scientiƩc articIes
DriginaI research articIes: These are papers presenting original results of quantitative or qualitative
sIudIes IhaI generaIe new knowledge (as opposed Io synIhesIzIng exIsIIng knowledge} on a parIIcular
topic. They’re the most common type of article.
ßrief repcrts: These reports can be similar to original research articles, only shorter! They can be ideal
Ior valIdaIIon sIudIes or when presenIIng secondary ƥndIngs oI a research projecI.
Literature reviews: RevIew papers synIhesIze ƥndIngs Irom oIher sIudIes and are Ihus very valuable In
Ihe HSPR ƥeld. RevIews can Iake many Iorms, IncludIng narraIIve revIews, sysIemaIIc revIews, meIa-
analyses, scopIng revIews, rapId revIews, realIsI revIews, meIa-synIheses oI qualIIaIIve research, eIc. Dne
experI In Ihe ƥeld, Ieremy CrImshaw oI Ihe Cochrane EƤecIIve PracIIce and DrganIzaIIon oI Care Croup,
encourages every HSPR student to learn how to carry out a high-quality review at some point during their
graduate studies.
DiscussicnlEssays: These papers may include reviews of the literature, but aim primarily to make
arguments, convince readers of a particular point of view, present ideas on a topic, or suggest areas for
future research.
Ccmmentaries: These papers IypIcally Iake Iwo Iorms: 1} a shorI paper IhaI accompanIes anoIher arIIcle
In Ihe journal Issue and conIexIualIzes IhaI arIIcle and helps readers Io InIerpreI IIs ƥndIngs andlor 2}
an opinion piece that presents an author’s arguments about an important or controversial issue in health
care. Some journals publIsh commenIarIes by InvIIaIIon only buI oIhers welcome unsolIcIIed IexIs.
5tudy prctcccIs: This type of paper, which is becoming increasingly common, presents details of
proposed or ongoing research. Such articles are great for students because you’re typically asked to
wrIIe deIaIled proIocols Ior your projecIs anyway as parI oI your graduaIe sIudIes.
Meeting repcrts: These papers reporI key messages or ouIcomes oI a scIenIIƥc conIerence, conIerence
evenI, or research meeIIng. Such papers can also be IerrIƥc Ior sIudenIs parIIcIpaIIng In InIeresIIng
training activities, such as research practicums or summer institutes.
Debate articIes: These are articles that usually ask authors to defend a position on a controversial issue.
Ìn some journals, debaIe arIIcles presenIIng opposIIe vIews are publIshed sIde-by-sIde, someIImes called
“point-counterpoint” articles. These papers represent interesting opportunities for trainees to pair
IogeIher Ior a publIshIng experIence.
EditcriaIslLetters tc the editcrlßepIies: Editorials are usually short reports that authors are invited to
wrIIe by Ihe journal edIIors. TheIr purpose Is IypIcally Io commenI on one or several arIIcles publIshed
In IhaI journal Issue. LeIIers Io Ihe edIIor and replIes are usually reacIIons Io arIIcles IhaI have recenIly
been publIshed, II accepIed, Ihey can be publIshed rapIdly aIIer beIng receIved by Ihe journal.
Case repcrts: Case reporIs can Iake many Iorms, IncludIng a descrIpIIon oI a specIƥc research experIences
(e.g. ImplemenIIng a new pracIIce In a hospIIal}, an unusual or InIeresIIng paIIenI care experIence, or an
event that sheds light on an issue or provides practical or educational lessons for others.
ThecrylMethcds papers: These papers showcase unique contributions to advancing theory or
research methodology.
AmazIngly, Ihe lIsI oI arIIcle Iypes In box 5.1 Is Iar Irom exhausIIve. Thereŗs a wIde range oI journals
avaIlable Io us In HSPR and, dependIng on Ihe parIIcular journal, varIous oIher Iypes oI arIIcles can be
solIcIIed. ÌIŗs really helpIul Ior sIudenIs Io IamIlIarIze Ihemselves wIIh Ihe range oI journals IhaI
publish in their topic areas so that they can understand more fully the publishing opportunities
IhaI exIsI Ior Ihem.
What are scme strategies fcr pubIishing within prcject cycIes7
A IypIcal research projecI lIIe cycle has sIx maIn sIages (FIgure 5.1}. Ìn conIrasI Io mosI descrIpIIons oI
research cycles where Ihe Idea oI publIshIng or dIssemInaIIng resulIs Is presenIed aI a ƥnal sIage In Ihe
cycle, we feel that publishing has the potential to happen at every stage of the process.
Figure 9.1. Prcject Iife cycIe stages
SIage 1
Initial Concept
Stage 2
PlannIng Ihe projecI
Stage 3
Creating a proposal
Stage 4
ProjecI sIarI-up
Stage 5
Data collection
& analysis
Stage 6
ProjecI conclusIon
5tage 1: The ƥrsI sIage oI Ihe research cycle Is where you usually Iry Io IdenIIIy a problem and an Idea
Ior a projecI IhaI helps address IhaI problem. To help puI Ihese problems and Ideas InIo conIexI and geI
a sense as to their importance, you typically seek out background information on them. This can be done
by searchIng Ihe lIIeraIure or speakIng wIIh your peers, oIher experIs, or people dIrecIly aƤecIed by Ihe
problem (e.g. paIIenIs}. As much as possIble, you wanI Io deepen your knowledge oI Ihe problem, reƥne
your Ideas, and begIn IormulaIIng some InIIIal research quesIIons andlor hypoIheses.
PctentiaI strategies: ThIs ƥrsI sIage oI Ihe cycle lends IIselI well Io a varIeIy oI arIIcle Iypes, IncludIng:
Ş Review papers: This is an obvious choice because literature searching and synthesis is a key step in
Ihe process oI conIexIualIzIng a research problem and reƥnIng our Ideas and research quesIIons.
Full-blown systematic reviews (quantitative or qualitative) are usually time-consuming and labour
InIensIve, buI can be exIremely helpIul In sheddIng lIghI on a specIƥc IopIc area and provIdIng
InsIghIs InIo nexI sIeps. Such revIews are essenIIally sIudIes In Ihemselves, as such, adequaIe
experIIse, IIme and resources are needed Io carry Ihem ouI. LearnIng Io conducI hIgh qualIIy revIews
Is a greaI Iool Ior sIudenIs Io have In IheIr Ioolbox. An addIIIonal beneƥI Is IhaI revIew papers are
oIIen cIIed even more Ihan orIgInal research arIIcles. DIher Iypes oI revIews, such as rapId
revIews and scopIng revIews, should be explored as well. Ìn some cases, Ihese may be more
feasible and appropriate.
Ş CommenIarIeslLeIIers Io Ihe edIIor: These papers also lend Ihemselves well Io SIage 1 oI Ihe cycle
because we can write about how a previously published paper has left some questions of interest
unanswered or how some Issue In healIh care has receIved InsuƧcIenI research aIIenIIon. These
papers are also someIImes used Io expose research problems more Iully and presenI research
agendas IhaI communIIIes oI researchers In parIIcular ƥelds should consIder workIng on.
Ş Debate: Is the problem you’re interested in polarizing or unappreciated for some reason? If so, perhaps
you can write a debate article in which you provide your scholarly perspective on the issue and
defend why the problem is of particular importance.
Ş Case reports: Ìdeas Ior research projecIs can come Irom a varIeIy oI sources. ÌI yours came Irom
a specIƥc paIIenI experIence or evenI IhaI hIghlIghIed a larger ImporIanI Issue, wrIIIng a case
report may be for you.
5tage 2: In the planning stage, we seek out collaborations and engage potential partners in our research,
we work on reƥnIng our research quesIIons and IocusIng our objecIIves, and we begIn desIgnIng Ihe
study and choosing the right methods to carry it out. In some cases, we may need to acquire new skills
beIore we Iake on a projecI or else we may Iry Io conducI pIloI work or a IeasIbIlIIy sIudy Io IacIlIIaIe Ihe
planning process. In essence, we’re trying to gain a clear understanding of what we’re trying to do and
how we’re going to do it.
PctentiaI strategies: Any oI Ihe sIraIegIes proposed Ior SIage 1 can also be applIed here.
In addition, some other interesting possibilities for publishing may present themselves at this
second stage in the cycle:
Ş Meeting reports: does your research projecI brIng IogeIher an InIeresIIng group oI collaboraIors? ÌI
so, perhaps a research day could be organIzed where members share IheIr experIIse and Ideas Ior
IuIure sIeps, IhIs InIormaIIon could serve as Ihe IoundaIIon oI a group publIcaIIon. SImIlarly, II a
conference you attended comes to an important conclusion about a problem or leads directly to a
new projecI, a meeIIng reporI could be an approprIaIe opIIon Ior sharIng IhIs InIormaIIon wIIh a
broader audience. Finally, students who participate in special training activities can sometimes
Ieam up wIIh oIher sIudenIs or researchers and descrIbe Ihe experIence and lessons learned
from their activities.
Ş TheorylmeIhods papers: ÌI Ihe projecIs you begIn Io develop are InnovaIIve In IheIr IheoreIIcal or
meIhodologIcal approach or perhaps apply exIsIIng IheorIes or meIhods Io new problems In an
interesting way, it can be very valuable to share this information by publishing a detailed account
of the innovation.
Ş Brief report: If you have some preliminary data that you can share or can conduct a validation study of a
tool or technique, a brief report may be an ideal vehicle for publishing early in the research cycle.
5tage 3: Creating a proposal begins with identifying potential sources of funding, crafting a research
projecI proposal wIIh Ihe InpuI oI collaboraIors and colleagues, and preparIng Ihe research proposal
for submission by gathering all the additional attachments required for the evaluation process (e.g. CVs,
letters of support, signatures, etc.).
PctentiaI strategies: Writing research proposals is intensive work and can leave the main people drafting
Ihe proposals wIIh lIIIle IIme Io do anyIhIng else. However, IundIng compeIIIIons have Ihe beneƥI oI
provIdIng hard deadlInes IhaI push researchers, noI only Io submII projecIs on IIme, buI also Io move
their potential publications forward. As such, all of the publishing options mentioned above are in play
durIng IhIs sIage and can poIenIIally beneƥI Irom Ihe presence oI moIIvaIed IndIvIduals and Ihe pressure
Io compleIe wrIIIng projecIs beIore a cerIaIn daIe.
5tage 4: After a proposal or two has been submitted and you’re slowly emerging from your post-
submission stupor, it’s time to wait (and wait and wait) for a funding decision. If the results are positive
and Ihe projecI Is Iunded, Ihere are usually loIs oI IhIngs Io do Io geI sIarIed, IncludIng hIrIng or IraInIng
personnel, acquIrIng equIpmenI, and makIng whaIever oIher projecI arrangemenIs are necessary. ThIs
lasI sIep usually Includes seekIng approval Ior Ihe projecI Irom all relevanI eIhIcs commIIIees. AI IhIs
sIage, a clear pIcIure oI how Ihe projecI wIll acIually be conducIed usually sIarIs Io Iorm and sIudenIs In
particular may have a good idea as to what their contribution may be.
PctentiaI strategies: The wait time between proposal submission and funding decisions is usually a good
IIme Io conIInue Io gaIher daIa or InIormaIIon abouI Ihe projecI and work on papers IhaI have already
been sIarIed. Ìn Ihe evenI oI granI rejecIIon, such advancemenIs Improve Ihe poIenIIal Ior success Ihe
nexI IIme around. Dnce a projecI receIves IundIng, has become beIIer deƥned, and has receIved eIhIcs
approval, one type of article is worth pursuing if possible:
Ş SIudy proIocolsldescrIpIIve arIIcles: Writing a study protocol for your master’s, doctoral, or post-
docIoral projecIs Is valuable because II Iorces you Io IhInk abouI many oI Ihe deIaIls oI your projecIs
and provIdes you wIIh a road map Ior compleIIng Ihese projecIs a IImely manner. Ìn many graduaIe
programs, these protocols are evaluated formally and so being able to publish the protocol is an easy
bonus IhaI can also lead Io addIIIonal helpIul commenIs Irom exIernal revIewers. A growIng number
oI HSPR journals accepI proIocols and so sIudenIs should assess wheIher IheIr papers are elIgIble. Ìn
addIIIon Io sIudenI proIocols, papers IhaI descrIbe larger research projecIs and IheIr meIhodology
are useIul Io publIsh early on as Ihey can InIroduce Ihe projecI Io Ihe research communIIy and serve
Io cuI down on descrIpIIons oI Ihe projecI and IIs meIhods In laIer publIcaIIons. Even papers IhaI
provIde deIaIls on how non-researcher collaboraIors may have goIIen engaged wIIh Ihe projecI (e.g.
polIcymakers, healIh provIders, paIIenI populaIIons} are IncreasIngly valued In Ihe HSPR ƥeld.
5tage 5: In this stage, data collection begins and eventually we’re able to analyze this data, interpret
II, and make some prelImInary conclusIons based on Ihe resulIs. DependIng on Ihe projecI, Ihe daIa
collection and analysis processes could be very short or, alternatively, could carry on for several years.
Similarly, the available data set could be relatively small or could instead be a huge database containing
years oI daIa Io examIne.
PctentiaI strategies: It’s during Stage 5 that data begin to be transformed into new knowledge. As such,
Ihe research Ieam can IypIcally begIn Io produce orIgInal research arIIcles and brIeI reporIs IhaI reƦecI
IheIr research objecIIves. As In oIher sIages, mosI oIher publIshIng opIIons remaIn avaIlable (IncludIng
revIews IhaI Include ƥndIngs Irom your projecI, commenIarIes based on InsIghIs arIsIng Irom your
research, or validation studies that required your data to be collected). In addition to paper publications,
IIŗs common Ior sIudenIs and researchers Io presenI early research ƥndIngs aI scIenIIƥc conIerences In
the form of posters and oral presentations and gather feedback from their peers about the relevance
of and enthusiasm for their work. In some cases, the abstracts from these conferences are published,
provIdIng an exIra boosI Io your CVʖ
5tage 6: Ìn SIage 6, you IypIcally Iry Io creaIe consensus on your ƥnal resulIs and work Io communIcaIe
Ihese resulIs as eƤecIIvely as possIble. DependIng on your projecI, Ihere may be lessons learned IhaI
requIre ImmedIaIe acIIon and collaboraIIon wIIh parIners. AI IhIs sIage you also reƦecI on Ihe projecI,
assess whaI worked and whaI dIdnŗI, and evaluaIe Ihe poIenIIal Ior anoIher sIudy IhaI buIlds oƤ oI II.
PctentiaI strategies: PublIshIng papers deIaIlIng Ihe resulIs oI orIgInal research Is whaI Is expecIed aI
the end of the research cycle. Publishing original research articles is critical to sharing the knowledge
we’ve generated, advancing science and potentially making an impact somewhere in our health system
or on peopleŗs healIh. DIher Iypes oI papers can and maybe should be carrIed ouI durIng IhIs sIage (e.g.
dIscussIon papers InƦuenced by our ƥndIngs, debaIe pIeces IhaI IncorporaIe our daIa, or brIeI reporIs on
more perIpheral research ƥndIngs}, however, publIshIng orIgInal research shows IhaI we can ƥnIsh whaI
we start and is vital to obtaining new funding and sparking new research cycles.
What pubIishing cppcrtunities exist cutside cf cur research prcjects7
While we’ve hopefully made it clear that you have a wide range of opportunities available to you
regardIng publIshIng wIIhIn research projecI cycles, IIŗs ImporIanI Io menIIon as a ƥnal noIe IhaI
you donŗI even need Io waII Io be parI oI a specIƥc projecI beIore geIIIng Involved In publIshIng.
DpporIunIIIes IhaI you can capIIalIze on may also arIse whIle youŗre doIng your graduaIe coursework or
ouIsIde oI your sIudIes, Ior example.
Gillian Hanley, a post-doctoral fellow and former Chair of the CAHSPR SWG, suggests that students
always keep their radar on alert for publishing opportunities. If a course you take requires that you
produce a literature review or an essay on a given topic, why not try to turn that into a publication? It
will probably require more time and elbow grease, but the results could be well worth it. For Jennifer
Zelmer, EdIIor-In-ChIeI oI Ihe journal HealIhcare PolIcy, a paper she wroIe as a sIudenI Ior a course she
was taking became one of her most cited papers! As her story shows, when you’re prepared, creative, and
open Io new possIbIlIIIes, II becomes much more lIkely IhaI Ihe scIenIIƥc communIIy hears your voIce.
Hcw dc we baIance writing prcjects that are reIated versus unreIated tc cur graduate
WrIIIng papers can be Iun, and havIng a Iew arIIcles Io our name Is clearly beneƥcIal Ior our career. ThaI
said, there is a risk to being overzealous, pursuing every opportunity that comes our way, and devoting
Ioo much IIme and energy Io wrIIIng projecIs ouIsIde Ihe scope oI our own research sIudIes. When gIven
Ihe opporIunIIy Io conIrIbuIe Io a paper, II can be hard Io say no, especIally II Ihereŗs a clear payoƤ In
Ierms oI buIldIng our resume, gaInIng experIence, or even beIng ƥnancIally compensaIed.
Remember this though: every opportunity has an opportunity cost. Not focusing on our own research
projecIs can someIImes have serIous consequences IhaI may noI be Iully apparenI Io us aI Ihe IIme oI
our decIsIon. No maIIer how knowledgeable we are abouI a IopIc or how sImple a wrIIIng projecI seems,
wrIIIng always Iakes IIme Ŕ a valuable and lImIIed resource Ior researchers and sIudenIs alIke. WrIIIng
projecIs can also go oƤ Ihe raIls and IaIl Io make II Io publIcaIIon. ÌIŗs Ihus essenIIal IhaI sIudenIs
learn Io weIgh Ihe pros and cons oI geIIIng Involved In wrIIIng projecIs unrelaIed Io IheIr own graduaIe
studies. Here are some questions to ask yourself when facing that decision:
Ş How much IIme mIghI II Iake Io compleIe Ihe wrIIIng projecI and how InIensely (hours per day or per
week) will I need to work on it?
Ş WIll Ì be ƥnancIally compensaIed Ior my work?
Ş WhaIŗs Ihe maIn beneƥI IhaI Ì mIghI obIaIn Irom parIIcIpaIIng In IhIs wrIIIng projecI (e.g. learnIng new
things, new collaborations, better resume, etc.)?
Ş WhaI mIghI be Ihe poIenIIal ImpacI (posIIIve or negaIIve} oI Ihe wrIIIng projecI Ior oIhers (e.g.
colleagues, other researchers, clinicians, policymakers, patients, etc.)?
Ş ÌI Ihe wrIIIng projecI doesnŗI pan ouI or Iakes 2-3 IImes longer Io compleIe Ihan expecIed, how
screwed am I? What’s the opportunity cost?
ÌI aIIer askIng yourselI Ihese quesIIons Ihe pros donŗI sIgnIƥcanIly ouIweIgh Ihe cons, IIŗs lIkely IhaI
passIng on Ihe currenI wrIIIng projecI and waIIIng Ior Ihe nexI opporIunIIy Is Ihe besI choIce. DIherwIse,
II may be all sysIems go wIIh a new publIshIng experIence. WhIchever Ihe case, IIŗs ImporIanI Ior you
Io develop good judgmenI and learn when Io open Ihe door when opporIunIIy knocks and, ImporIanIly,
when to keep the door shut.
FinaI wcrds
As young researchers, we’re not immune to the realities of the current research environment. Many of
us feel pressure to publish, especially those of us who are more advanced in our studies. Publishing isn’t
the be-all and end-all of science, but we can’t deny its importance either. The good news is that there
are many journals ouI Ihere and more opporIunIIIes Io publIsh Ihan weŗre usually aware oI. WIIh a lIIIle
IhoughI and someIImes Ihe supporI oI a menIor or peer, we can ƥnd ways Io gaIn valuable experIence
and even become productive in our own right.
DigitaI tccIs and scientiƩc ccmmunicaticn
By Rob Fraser
What is scciaI media7
There’s no need to get worried about what is or isn’t social media. The term can seem a bit vague, which
makes sense. ÌIŗs IaIrly new, and Ihere are a loI oI deƥnIIIons beIng suggesIed Ior II. WIkIpedIaŗs SocIal
Media article
was revIsed over 2,UUU IImes sInce II was ƥrsI sIarIed. Dne oI Ihe sImplesI deƥnIIIons Io
grasp Is Ihe 2UU5 deƥnIIIon oI socIal medIa:
“primarily Internet- and mobile- based tools for sharing and discussing information.”
SImply IakIng oƤ Ihe ƥrsI ƥve words oI IhaI deƥnIIIon allows us Io Include everyIhIng Irom sIone
tablets and hieroglyphics up to the latest mobile phones and web services. People have been inventing
ways Io Improve and expand Ihe way we share InIormaIIon Ior mIllennIa. Technology has always been
creating newer and faster ways to send, record, transmit, copy, and edit information.
Social media is not a new invention, it’s really an evolution of digital tools.
Although the term social media may be a fad, mobile and web-based tools are here to stay. Therefore,
young researchers can maxImIze Ihe ImpacI oI IheIr work by leveragIng any and all Iools avaIlable
Io Ihem. Ìn addIIIon, Ihese Iools add sIgnIƥcanI value Io Ieams oI senIor researchers IhaI may noI be
familiar with emerging technologies and how they can be applied to research and knowledge translation.
What digitaI tccIs are avaiIabIe tc heaIth services and pcIicy researchers7
The Iools avaIlable are conIInually expandIng and changIng. RaIher Ihan geIIIng losI In Ihe deIaIls
oI Ihe specIƥc company or websIIe provIdIng a Iool, researchers should Iocus on Ihe IuncIIon IhaI II
supporIs. Table 1U.1 below Iocuses on Ihe varIous applIcable caIegorIes and IuncIIons oI Iools, and Ihe
IhIrd column lIsIs only a Iew oI Ihe poIenIIal examples Ior Ihe Iools.
TabIe 10.1. DigitaI tccIs reIevant tc H5Pß researchers
Categcry DigitaI tccI ExampIe
Social networking
Wordpress, Blogger
Twitter, Yammer
Foursquare, Facebook Places
Facebook, LinkedIn
Feedly, Netvibes
Social bookmarking
ReIerence managerslSocIal
Social news
Social documents
ProjecI managemenI
Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting
Medpedia, PBWorks, Wikia
Delicious, Diigo, BibSonomy
CiteULike, Mendeley, Zotero
Reddit, Digg, Newsvine
Google Docs, Zoho
Basecamp, Huddle, SharePoint
Media Sharing
Live streaming
Presentation sharing
File sharing
Flickr, Picasa
YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo
Justin.tv, Livestream, Ustream
Scribd, Slideshare, Sliderocket
Dropbox, ßox
These tools and services range in cost. Many have a “Freemium” model, which allows basic
functionality with limitation on certain features at reduced or no cost. This can allow you to keep costs
low and, II Ihe Ioolsŗ premIum IeaIures add sIgnIƥcanI value, Ihen upgradIng Is always possIble.
Which tccIs are mcst usefuI during the pubIicaticn prccess7
ßesearch phase:
5canning the envircnment: RSS (real simple syndication) feeds allow you to subscribe to organizations,
blogs, research journals, news sources or search resulIs. Many people are aware oI emaIl newsleIIers,
buI mIghI noI help Ihe IeelIng oI beIng overwhelmed when your emaIl Inbox Is already overloaded. RSS
provides a feed that can be collected and displayed using RSS Feed Readers, like Feedly. This allows you
to skim over new articles and decide if you want to read them or visit the site, rather than spending a lot
of time visiting individual sites to check if there are any updates. There are also many mobile applications
for smartphones and tables that allow you to check your RSS feeds while on the go.

ßuiIding partnerships: WorkIng wIIh mulIIple InsIIIuIIons, proIessIons, and parIners Irom dIƤerenI
geographic locations is becoming more important. When trying to work with people that are no longer
Irom Ihe same organIzaIIon or even In Ihe same cIIy, Ihe use oI dIgIIal Iools can have sIgnIƥcanI value.
ConsIderIng Ihe prIce oI posIage, shIppIng ƥles, or even long dIsIance callIng, Ihe cosI oI collaboraIIon
can add up. Using videoconferencing tools can like Skype can keep voice calls free. Google Hangouts now
allow multiple people to videoconference at no cost. These types of services greatly reduce the barriers
geography used to create, and make it easier to get feedback and participation from partners.
UsIng paper Is noI a very IImely or eƧcIenI meIhod oI communIcaIIon and IrackIng documenI versIons
over email can be challenging too. Collaborative document editing through services like Google Docs can
allow multiple individuals to: view, comment, and edit a spreadsheet or manuscript at the same time. This
can allow parallel processes instead of sequential ones, meaning that two contributors can concurrently
work on the same thing, rather than having to wait a week until someone has completed their changes.
These types of time saving help meet deadlines and accelerate research.
Writing phase:
Drganizing infcrmaticn: When IransIIIonIng Io wrIIIng, ƥndIng reIerences and InIormaIIon sources Is
crIIIcal. UsIng servIces IhaI allow you Io archIve and sorI InIormaIIon can be a sIgnIƥcanI advanIage Io
researchers. Adding a tag to a blog post, reference, or social bookmark allows you to associate it with
particular keywords, which help with retrieval. Social bookmarking allows you to save references to
websIIes and add Iags. DelIcIous and DIIgo are examples oI socIal bookmarkIng servIces IhaI allow you
to organize interesting references you come across on the web. This can help you see what others have
found, organize what you come across, and then pass your work along to others. Using the search function
on DelIcIous Io search řdIabeIesŚ Ior example would reIurn websIIes mosI commonly Iagged wIIh IhIs
term. This helps identify quality and reduces search time.
For sIudenIs, organIzIng arIIcles and reIerences Is a challenge. SIgnIƥcanI amounIs oI IIme and eƤorI
can be wasIed IryIng Io ƥnd an old reIerence you know you had somewhere. HavIng mulIIple compuIers
(homelwork, deskIopllapIop} can make IhIs worse. Mendeley Is one example oI a reIerence manager
that allows you to store, organize, annotate, and share research articles. You can also sync your research
lIbrary across mulIIple compuIers. ThIs means you easIly ƥnd your papers. AddIIIonally, you can creaIe
public references lists, so others can see what you’re working on, which helps others and can lead to
new collaboraIIons. For example, durIng presenIaIIons, provIde a lInk Io your shared reIerence lIsI. ThIs
creaIes a socIal resource IhaI does noI go ouI oI daIe aIIer Ihe presenIaIIon, allowIng oIhers Io ƥnd your
current shared reference list regardless of when they check the list.
CcIIabcrating with cthers: SharIng ƥles and research resources Is anoIher way Io make collaboraIIon
easIer. WheIher IIs small ƥles such as draIIs oI manuscrIpIs or larger ƥles, such as daIaseIs, Images or
movIes, ƥle sharIng servIces lIke Dropbox or ßox can allow you Io quIckly and easIly IransIer and share
ƥles and Iolders, especIally ones IhaI are Ioo large Ior emaIl IransIer, wIIh colleagues. Tools Ior managIng
your own research libraries like Mendeley can also allow you to share folders with other researchers. This
means IhaI when Ihey add a ƥle Io a Iolder or collecIIon you auIomaIIcally have II Ioo. UsIng Ihese Iools
can help you reduce unnecessary email and having to repeatedly search through your email archives.
5haring phase:
Digital tools reduce the barriers to publishing and sharing information. Personal computers and printers
are much cheaper than a printing press. The addition of the web means now a computer with an Internet
connection allows you to share your work globally. For the price of a laptop, access to the Internet, and
a bit of time, anyone can publish a blog or website. Producing audio and video material is also possible
aI dramaIIcally reduced cosIs. HIgh DeƥnIIIon (HD} vIdeo cameras come as cheap as a Iew hundred
dollars and vIdeo hosIIng sIIes lIke YouTube allow you Io posI ƥles Ior Iree. Decreased prIces creaIe new
opportunities for individuals to create and publish information, especially when your publications are
open access. This allows you to share what you’re working on, and spread quality research faster. Whether
IIŗs your educaIIon, experIence, or IIme spenI gaIherIng and analyzIng resources, IndIvIduals aI all levels
can contribute something that can help others. Publishing and sharing ideas develops a personal brand,
establishes credibility, and creates opportunities that may not be possible or happen otherwise.
Hcw can we share cur ideas and research eƨectiveIy7
Ţ 5tart by sharing usefuI rescurces: Feeling reluctant to create content or share isn’t unusual. The easiest
way Io geI begIn Is Io sIarI sImply and wIIh small sIeps. For example, IhInk abouI Ihe IIme you InvesI
In readIng Ihe laIesI Issue oI a journal. There may be 15 arIIcles, buI you only ƥnd Ihree IhaI are well-
wrIIIen and useIul Io your ƥeld oI work. TakIng Ihose and sharIng IheIr lInks on TwIIIer or LInkedÌn
can save others time, promote research, and develop your professional image.
Ţ Use buiIt in scciaI media functicns: Dnce Ihe Idea oI sharIng becomes more naIural, look Ior ways
to make it easier. Many blogs, news sites, and growing numbers of academic publishers are adding
comment sections as well as sharing functionality. These buttons allow you to share and comment
with a simple click of a button.
Ţ Create and share ccntent: ThInk abouI whaI you work on or whaI you sIudy. DIIen youŗre noI Ihe only
person working on the topic. This means many people are doing similar work. So your professional
perspecIIve and work can be Iremendous value Io oIhers, especIally In nIche ƥelds. There are many
ways to share and develop you own ideas by regularly writing on a professional blog. Most research
sIarIs wIIh some Iorm oI lIIeraIure revIew, II you Iake IIme Io do IhIs, why noI share some ƥndIngs
with others? Using social bibliography tools like Mendeley can allow you to share a research folder,
or others may choose to use their website or blog to do this.
Ţ Use apprcpriate ccntent channeIs: Focus on creaIIng conIenI IhaI reƦecIs your skIlls and InIeresI. ÌI
you’re not a great writer, consider using video or audio. Posting what you make on the appropriate
hosIIng servIces allows oIhers Io beIIer ƥnd II. There are servIces Ior sharIng phoIos (FlIcker, PIcasa,
etc.), videos (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), and documents (Scribd, Slideshare, etc.) that make it easy to
create content channels for others to subscribe to. Using these features allows you to consistently
release maIerIals and develop sIgnIƥcanI resources oIhers wIll share.
Ţ Create ycur cwn webpage: There are varIous ways Io do IhIs, wIIh lIIIle or wIIhouI cosI. Dne oI Ihe
simplest ways is to use hIIp:llabouI.me, which allows you to create a landing page linking to the
socIal medIa sIIes you wanI oIhers Io ƥnd. A more sophIsIIcaIed websIIe IhaI could allow you Io posI
updates is a blogging service, like Wordpress.com. This is a convenient way to help share, and you
can use the “about” page for your biography. For the really bold, look into a service that allows you to
buy a domaIn name, as well as creaIe and hosI a websIIe lIke hIIp:llsquarespace.com.
Ţ Find pIaces tc ccnnect: NexI you can explore dIƤerenI socIal medIa sIIes Io see whaIŗs happenIng on
Ihem. For example, II you were on LInkedÌn search groups Ior řHealIh PolIcy Research.Ś UsIng Ihe
buIlI In search IuncIIons Ior a socIal medIa servIce can allow you Io ƥnd Ihe relevanI dIscussIon and
evaluate if a tool might be right for you.
Hcw can I create a strcng cnIine presence7
Creating an online presence may seem complicated, but it’s really about taking simple and deliberate
sIeps. ßuIldIng a brand Is no longer only a concern Ior a company. Young researchers need Io explore
IheIr InIeresIs and skIlls and be wIllIng Io puI Ihemselves In places where Ihey can ƥnd, parIIcIpaIe, share,
and be found. The Internet landscape will continue to evolve and change. Researchers should choose the
direction they want to go and test the use of new services to help them get there. The following are some
specIƥc ways you can begIn Io esIablIsh yourselI onlIne.
Where tc begin:
Think about your values, interests and passions - these should drive what you focus your time on and
how you acI onlIne. Any IIme you open your browser you can geI losI In Ihe noIse, spend IIme IhInkIng
about what is important and of interest to you before you go online.
Ccme prepared:
Ţ Cather ycur infcrmaticn: Create a document that has an appropriate photo (only you in the picture,
clear enough to recognize you) of you or an avatar (if you’re not comfortable create your own avatar
hIIp:llwww.doppelme.com). Write out a short bio (a few sentences, a medium bio, and a longer
versIon}. Use IhIs documenI any IIme you creaIe a proƥle.
Ţ Pick a username: Although it’s an easy step to skip, usernames are important in social media, it’s
how others will (or will not) remember you. Try to make it descriptive (name - Rob, profession -
nurserob, and avoId numbers - IIorgeI1586} so oIhers can learn abouI you and remember.
Use hIIp:llnamechk.com Io IesI usernames across mulIIple sIIes so you do noI have a dIƤerenI
username for every service.
Ţ 5tart with an end in mind: Think about what you want to accomplish or learn. This is crucial to
remember and it’s important to routinely evaluate how you’re spending time. Hopefully you can
self-identify when you’re purposefully investing in your career versus avoiding work you seriously
need to do.
Cet started:
LInkedÌn Is an excellenI place Io sIarI (www.linkedin.com).
Ţ Create a prcƩIe: SIarI by compleIIng your proƥle - some people leave II halI ƥnIshed (or worse} ƥlled
with spelling errors, typos, or duplications. If the intent is to create a positive reputation and put your
besI IooI Iorward, you jusI IaIledʖ ÌI Iakes a small upIronI InvesImenI oI IIme Io gaIher and compleIe
this information, however, once this is done you only need review occasionally.
Ţ Ccnnect with pecpIe ycu kncw: Build your network by searching for people and groups (e.g. CAHSPR)
that you know. Remember though that sending out blanket invites is strongly discouraged. Indeed,
onlIne Iools are an exIensIon oI oƨIne socIal norms. How do you Ieel when someone walks up Io
you and makes a request without at least saying hello? Take time to address the individual by name,
remind them who you are, and be polite!
Ţ keep it up tc date: Remember Io updaIe your proƥle quarIerly. A sImple calendar remInder every
/-6 monIhs Io spend 15 mInuIes Io updaIe your proƥle Is helpIul. ThIs prevenIs IIme rushIng by
and soon your proƥle says řrecenIly began a undergraduaIeŚ when youŗre wrappIng up a posI-
doctorate fellowship.
Another easy service to get started with is Twitter. It requires less information than Linkedin. All you
need is a picture, user name, and a brief bio before you start to look for others and share with people or
organizations that are interesting to you.
Ţ Use the ccmment secticn: Your comments don’t have to be long responses or in-depth critiques of
some material. Simply providing feedback to the content creator that their work is valuable can be
encouragIng. A perIecI example oI when Io use Ihe commenI secIIon Is when you wanI Io buIld on an
Idea, ask Ior clarIƥcaIIon, or conIInue Ihe dIscussIon. ThIs can beneƥI your own learnIng and expands
dialogue on the topic of interest.
Ţ Use ycur name and scciaI infcrmaticn: Many comment sections allow you to login with various social
media accounts (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Using these allows the author and other viewers to link
back Io your proƥle. ThIs Is helpIul because II allows Ihem Io know your background, InIeresIs and
experIIse. ThIs should also keep you accounIable. UsIng your name or socIal medIa proƥles Iorces
you to respond in a professional manner. This is important because many people think anonymous
comments allow freedom to ignore general manners and professionalism. As a general rule, if you
wouldn’t say it to the person face-to-face than it doesn’t have a place online either.
Ţ Participate in cnIine discussicns: Social media allows for continual sharing of information and
conversaIIons. AIIer seIIIng up your proƥles, you should look Ior opporIunIIIes Io engage In onlIne
dIscussIons and conversaIIons relaIed Io your ƥeld. Look Ior oIhers IhaI are InƦuencers and IhoughI
leaders In your ƥeld. ÌI you see a research or polIcy leader In your area usIng TwIIIer, Iollow Ihem and
respond to their posts or mention them when reading their articles. You can also use a hashtag, which
Is a Iag used on IwIIIer by puIIIng a ʘ In IronI oI a word or accronym. For example, ʘhcsmca Is used
on twitter to discuss issues related to Health Care Social Media in Canada (HCSMCA). There may be a
hashIag Ior a conIerence youŗre aIIendIng, whIch Is a IerrIƥc way Io see who and whaI Is beIng saId
about presentations. There may also be scheduled times when discussions are held by a group, like
#hcsmca, which hosts a one hour discussion on topics submitted by participants. If you don’t see a
topic that interests you, consider creating one!
Measure ycur eƨcrt:
TIme Is a scare resource, and Ihere are a loI oI dIƤerenI ways Io spend II. ÌI you value your IIme, youŗll
want to know how you’re spending it, so look for ways to measure where you’re investing your time.
These donŗI have Io be exacI measuremenIs, only a rough proxy allowIng you Io make comparIsons over
time. Something as uncomplicated as views of a video or presentation you share can work. There are
many Iypes oI daIa, regardless oI whaI you decIde Io use, make a poInI Io reƦecI on II regularly.
Ţ 5et gcaIs and pricrities: ÌI you have goals, IIŗs easIer Io evaluaIe wheIher or noI your eƤorIs are helpIng
you Io reach Ihem. DveremphasIs on a sIngle measure Is dangerous, because IIŗs possIble Io deIracI
from the overall goal by focusing on that particular measure. Goal-focused behaviour should use
mulIIple sources oI InIormaIIon Io gauge success. For example, II you share a reIerence lIsI, perhaps
you may not get many return visitors to a web-page, but you might get numerous comments or
sharing of the page through Twitter. Another reason to focus on your goals is that metrics aren’t
perIecI. For InsIance, you may ƥnd ouI a vIdeo you shared was used In a class. ThaI vIdeo would
only have 1 addIIIonal řvIewŚ on Ihe websIIe you shared II, despIIe Ihe IacI Ihere may be 1U-2UU
students in the classroom. Sometimes you might get other forms of feedback, such as an email or
IexI message. These can all valIdaIe your sIraIegy Ior achIevIng your goals, buI mIghI noI be parI oI
regularly scheduled evaluation.
Ţ Use buiIt-in metrics: Many social sites now provide account owners some sort of metric, like views
(YouTube, Slideshare, etc.) or Likes (Facebook). These are a perfect start. If you have a website, you
can use a Iree Iool called Coogle AnalyIIcs Io measure your websIIe IraƧc behavIour. EngagemenI
can also be measured by comments on your site or public discussion on sites like Twitter.
Ţ CcIIect the unexpected: As prevIously menIIoned you may geI emaIls, IexI messages, or oIher Iorms oI
Ieedback. Try Io ƥnd a place Io copy and save Ihese. ThaI way as IIme goes by you can keep a record,
and use it as evidence. Perhaps you start a social presence for your organization or your research
group, IhIs can all help jusIIIy Ihe IIme expense and valIdaIe Ihe groupsŗ work.
FinaI wcrds
DIgIIal and socIal Iools creaIe a sIgnIƥcanI shIII In communIcaIIon by changIng II Irom one-way Io
mulII-dIrecIIonal conversaIIon. ÌnsIead oI geIIIng losI In Ihe ever-expandIng web oI servIces avaIlable
online, researchers need to focus on the bigger trend. Like it or not, changes to how we can communica
oƤer new opporIunIIIes Io acceleraIe and enhance parInershIps, collaboraIIon, and knowledge sharIng.
These Iools can oƤer new possIbIlIIIes and advanIages Io sIudenIs and researchers IhaI learn abouI IheIr
potential early and how to leverage them in order to advance their research and its impacts.
These services are also creating new opportunities to work across traditional professional, institutional,
and geographic boundaries. Hopefully they’ll help us continue to evolve our understanding of healthcare
in our country and abroad, perhaps even allowing us to tear down the traditional silos that our system
regularly laments.
This chapter is not a comprehensive guide, only a starting point. These strategies are meant to provide
some basIc perspecIIve on how socIal medIa Is relevanI Io HSPR. AlIhough II may noI oƤer you a perIecI
road map Ior your own cIrcumsIances, hopeIully II helps you sIarI your journey. Thereŗs a loI Io learn,
and we can all help by sharing the various ways these tools help enhance our research and accelerate
knowledge sharing in health care.
When we asked Peter Norton, Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary, about his early
publIshIng experIences and IacIors relaIed Io hIs success, he responded IhaI early on he someIImes
jusI sIumbled Ihrough IhIngs, learnIng along Ihe way wIIh each new experIence. Ìn readIng IhIs
guidebook, we hope to have provided you with some information and advice that helps you stumble a
bII less on your own journey.
The Idea oI journey Is an ImporIanI one. When we ƥrsI Iumble down Ihe rabbII hole and emerge In an
HSPR-relaIed ƥeld, wheIher IIŗs as a graduaIe sIudenI, posIdocIoral Iellow or young researcher, we donŗI
all start at the same place with the same skills and baggage. You needn’t worry, however, if you don’t
immediately conduct your research and write your papers with the same eloquence as some of the giants
In Ihe ƥeld. There are many resources ouI Ihere Io help you and many opporIunIIIes Ior you Io learn and
evolve. Through each publIshIng experIence, you can learn Ihe IrIcks our Irade, ƥnd your own unIque
voice, and hopefully leave your mark on the health system and the health of Canadians.
1. Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research. Resources - What is
řHSPRŚ? 2U13, hIIp:llwww.cahspr.calenlresources.
2. AcademyHealIh. AbouI us - WhaI Is HSR? 2U13, hIIp:llwww.academyhealIh.orglAbouIl
3. PhIllIps CD. WhaI do you do Ior a lIvIng? Toward a more succIncI deƥnIIIon oI healIh
servIces research. ßMC HealIh ServIces Research. 2UU6,6:117.
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and encouragemenIs do Ihey encounIer? AcademIc MedIcIne. 2UU5,8/(/}:511-516.
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and reporIIng oI research: AuIhorshIp and conIrIbuIorshIp. 2U13, hIIp:llwww.Icmje.orgl
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