Top tips for getting published

The editors of four leading cardiology journals have shared some of the secrets to success when submitting research for publication.

CSANZ 2016 delegates were treated to a rare insider’s perspective on review process and offered some invaluable tips to give their research the best chance of being accepted for publication.

The ‘meet the editors’ breakfast session on Saturday morning was chaired by the Editor of Heart, Lung and Circulation, Professor Robert Denniss. Aptly named ‘What are cardiology journals looking for?’, former International Editor (Australia and New Zealand) of Circulation Professor Andrew Tonkin, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Cardiology Andrew Coats, and Editor in Chief of Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy set out the main reasons why journals rejected manuscripts. They also offered delegates some practical advice on points to consider before submitting research to a journal.

 The main reason for rejection before review

Flaws in the design of the study are the number one reason why journals reject manuscripts without a review, said Professor Tonkin. “It’s the major reason that studies will not get accepted – it’s not the poor writing as editorial work can be done on that,” he told delegates.

His advice was to have a pre-prepared study protocol and stick to it.

“Many people make the mistake of changing the design of their study, or even the endpoints, without bearing in mind that they need to have an extremely good reason to do so,” he said.

Authors could also misinterpret data, or place too much emphasis on sub-group analyses despite not being adequately powered.

Other reasons for rejection without review could be that the manuscript doesn’t fit the journal, poor writing and organisation.

 Every rejection cloud has a silver lining 

Some papers were fortunate enough to make it through the review process before being rejected. But it was important to keep in mind that the process should still be thought of as a valuable one, Professor Tonkin said.

“If your paper ultimately gets rejected, and a lot do, those reviews will be valuable. Don’t discard them…take them on board, rewrite and resubmit elsewhere,” he advised.

“It’s that elusive ‘hole in one’…Like L Larsen said:  “If at first you don’t succeed, cool off, revise, and submit again”.”

 It’s not you, it’s us

Sometimes a rejection can be down to the space restraints and priorities of the particular journal, Professor Tonkin pointed.

“I recently read that Nature receives in the region of 10,000 submissions a year – that gives you an idea of how difficult it is” he told delegates.

However there was still the chance that manuscripts could be referred to a sister journal, for example, Circulation: Heart Failure.

Some practical points to consider

What’s your elevator pitch? This should be your key message and should be in the first two and last sentence of the abstract.

Get the statistics right first time. Statisticians should be involved in the early stages. “Otherwise it’s going to come back and bite you,” said Professor Tonkin.

Is it boring or confusing to read? Because editors read thousands of papers…

Is the discussion relevant? The discussion should focus on any novel findings, and why they’re important.

Remember this is not a thesis. Less is often more

Has it been reviewed by a native/fluent English speaker? Reviewers can be irritated by grammatical or spelling mistakes.


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