Fair or not, few academicians would argue that the mantra "Publish or perish" can be safely ignored. Not if one seeks to establish or bolster one's scholarly reputation, that is.
According to the editor-in-chief of a newly minted medical education research journal, the challenges of achieving that first option are both sizeable and twofold.
First, says Christopher Morley, Ph.D.(www.upstate.edu), interim chair of the Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine and vice chair for research in the Department of Family Medicine at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, prospective authors must complete the arduous tasks of conducting methodologically rigorous, ethically sound and professionally relevant research and appropriately interpreting and translating the findings into a well-sourced, clearly written manuscript. (Morley characterizes these steps as "Type 1" challenges.)
But then second, Morley adds, they must successfully navigate the choppy waters of choosing the "right" journal and surviving the wholly subjective processes of editorial and peer review to realize the final product. (These, he calls "Type 2" challenges.)
- Last month, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) and the STFM Resource Library launched Peer-Reviewed Reports in Medical Education Research (PRiMER), an open-access scholarly journal.
- PRiMER is intended to serve as a bridge between presentation of research results at conferences and similar venues and the development of full-length articles suitable for submission to a traditional peer-reviewed journal.
- The journal's editor-in-chief outlines various novel aspects of the new publication, including an author-friendly, responsive-design philosophy and built-in social media analytics.
A daunting prospect, to be sure, and one that has no doubt stymied widespread dissemination of more than a few valuable study insights -- some in the realm of medical education.
Enter Peer-Reviewed Reports in Medical Education Research(journals.stfm.org) (PRiMER), an open-access scholarly journal launched last month by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) and the STFM Resource Library.
In short, PRiMER is intended to serve as a bridge between presentation of research results at conferences and similar venues and the development of full-length articles suitable for submission to a traditional peer-reviewed journal.
In an editorial(journals.stfm.org) in PRiMER's inaugural issue, Morley lays out the rationale behind the publication while clarifying its scope of review as "original research, that follows rigorous research standards, ethical protections, and clear professional writing, focusing upon the education, training, and professional development of primary care providers, and the policies that affect the primary care workforce."
Morley acknowledges that some journals permit authors to do an end-around those Type 1 challenges. In fact, he notes, ways exist to surmount both Type 1 and Type 2 challenges.
"Unfortunately, the way around Type 1 challenges (i.e., publishing a paper that has severe methodological, ethical, or grammatical problems) is to, basically, push bad scholarship into the public domain."
PRiMER, on the other hand, was conceived "as an effort to address Type 2 difficulties, while holding fast against Type 1 quality issues." Thus, it diverges from traditional peer-reviewed journals by fostering a more inclusive approach to contributing to the scholarly literature.
"As long as a paper is within scope, and applies rigorous methods and interpretation," Morley notes, "we are not concerned with overall study size, under-recruitment, negative results, confirmatory findings, and so forth."
Of course, he adds, authors should exercise appropriate caution when interpreting findings and discussing potential implications of smaller studies. Similarly, all study limitations should be clearly and completely described.
PRiMER's open-access model and the fact that it charges no fees to publish remove financial barriers to authorship and enable authors to freely access their own work and that of others, while ensuring that findings published in the journal are widely available to other scholars.
Additional aspects of the publication that set it apart, according to Morley, include its use of
- a web-based platform that incorporates an author-friendly, responsive-design philosophy;
- Altmetric badges(www.altmetric.com) that allow authors, editors, publishers, and readers to readily track the social media impact of individual articles; and
- links to Mendeley(www.mendeley.com) that permit easy import of bibliographic data (with plans to add links to other bibliographic management systems in the future).
More information about PRiMER, including the specific categories of manuscripts the journal accepts, general guidelines for submission, information on manuscript preparation and how to access the journal's online manuscript submission system, can be found in the "Authors" section(journals.stfm.org).
But perhaps the best way to gauge what PRiMER is all about is to check out the first class of papers it presents:
• "A Community Health Assessment Curriculum to Develop Population Health Competencies(journals.stfm.org),"
• "Promoting Healthy Family Behaviors in the Primary Care Setting(journals.stfm.org)," and
• "Rural Patient Preference for Physician Attire(journals.stfm.org)."