Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Course participants and faculty for the UK EQUATOR Centre’s Publication School in 2015 stand outside the course venue at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford on a sunny summer’s day. The backdrop is a modern building with large windows and wooden slates.

The first cohort of the EQUATOR Publication School (6-10 July 2015) had goals many researchers can relate to: develop confidence in writing, fill in the gaps in a self-taught writer’s training, polish skills so as best to pass them on to students, and write faster and better. The Publication School week was spent on every aspect of writing and publication, from planning the paper to writing a press release. By the end, participants were saying:

My action goals from the course are to take CONSORT into account when writing, go on a statistics course, get on Twitter, and talk to other medical writers at my firm about using reporting guidelines!
This has been a great week, I've really enjoyed it. I've been writing papers before now, but I'm even more skilled now. I'm more aware now, more secure about writing the correct things and reporting guidelines. I'll absolutely write better articles. I'll share this with all my colleagues. We do the best we can, but we can do better.











Intrigued by what you missed? Keep reading for some of the highlights and tips and tricks for writing articles!

Write a paper in a week

The Publication School week was spent on every aspect of writing and publication, from planning the paper to writing a press release. Our participants wrote research papers in groups, using a published protocol as inspiration. Each day focused on an aspect of paper writing and common errors to avoid. Liz Wager of Sideview took us through general planning, methods, results, introduction, discussion, and abstract writing. Using this writing order helps to refine a paper’s focus.

Good style is clear thoughts, short words, and short sentences - Liz Wager

The papers followed Liz’s ‘hourglass’ structure, with a broad focus in the introduction and conclusion, but a narrow focus in the middle with the results. Did you know that you can write an interesting, informative introduction in 150 words? Just decide on your target journal and audience, and tailor the information to their requirements and knowledge, avoiding the unnecessary full literature review.

One participant summarised Liz’s advice perfectly in their action goal:

“I’m going to change the way I prepare the introduction, especially the first paragraph. Start with how it impacts the audience! I’m also going to change how I structure the discussion. I usually put the limitations right at the end, but I like this idea of moving them to the second paragraph and ending the paper on a positive note.”

Publication School Gary Collins

Producing papers fit for a statistics reviewer

A unique aspect of Publication School over other writing courses was the emphasis on correct reporting for medical research. EQUATOR’s Doug Altman, Iveta Simera, and Gary Collins introduced reporting guidelines, which take all the guesswork out of what details to include in a paper.

Reporting guidelines are like shopping lists, they stop us from forgetting important details! - Iveta Simera

Your statistics reviewer, reader, and systematic reviewer will all appreciate your efforts if you combine guidelines with the exhortation to ‘report everything needed for replication’. Many of our participants had experience as systematic reviewers and readers, and it was gratifying when presenters and participants quickly agreed on what makes an excellent statistics write up.

Publication School Iveta Simera

Engaging with editors

Our papers were completed in just three days, but the article journey wasn’t over yet: it was time for publication and dissemination! If you’re aiming for a high-impact journal, remember to register your study and publish a protocol before research begins, and add a results summary to your registration before submitting your article. Our participants were relieved to discover that journals do not consider results summaries on trial registries to be prior publications, and in fact encourage them.

Editors are looking for three things from an article. Is it new? Is it true? Will it make a difference? - Domhnall MacAuley

Paper review and acceptance can seem a confusing process from the outside. Domhnall MacAuley from PLoS Medicine and CMAJ gave us an honest account of the life of an editor and just how papers and cover letters are received. He agreed with Liz that articles should be clear, concise, and simply written – editors have dozens of articles to read!

Jackie Marchington warned us about a different segment of the publishing world that deliberately hides its processes. Predatory journals will take your article in exchange for cash and offer very little peer review or editing. Publishing in these journals is a waste of good research.

Post-publication: Posts, tweets, and other noise

Publication School participants working

Publication alone is no longer sufficient for disseminating your work. Dozens of social media platforms and an ever-shortening news cycle make a wall of noise for your work to break through. Jo Silva, the NDORMS Communications officer, introduced the wonders (and dangers) of social media. Thankfully, we can simply choose one or two media platforms, and should always consult our communications officer for help! Jo demonstrated that by following a few basic rules, writing with passion and enthusiasm, and including a personal story, you can bring your research to life for the public in a press release and get your message to more people than you could ever imagine.

Why should we bother with post-publication research dissemination, or even with publication itself? We all agreed that there are moral obligations around research. Public funding brings with it both an obligation to publish and an obligation to make your work useful and accessible for the public. Plain language summaries and effective research dissemination help to meet these obligations.

A week to remember

Publication School offered insights into every step of the publication process, from planning and writing an article to disseminating it to the public. It focused on clear, concise reporting and the use of available guidelines.

This has been a great week, I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve been writing papers before now, but I’m even more skilled now. I’m more aware now, more secure about writing the correct things and reporting guidelines. I’ll absolutely write better articles. I’ll share this with all my colleagues. We do the best we can, but we can do better.
Thank you for the inspiration and energy that you have given me to go back home to my students and colleagues and tell them again and again about EQUATOR and the job you have done and that we can use it. I had gotten a bit depressed – I’ve been doing this for 10 years since you started – but you’ve given me new energy to start again!











If this sounds like the perfect course for you or your students, keep an eye on EQUATOR’s news for a repeat of the course next year and check out more selected tips and tricks from the week on #EQPubSchool.

Similar stories

NIHR Fellowships awarded to NDORMS researchers

Congratulations to Eileen Morrow and Mae Chester-Jones who have received NIHR Doctoral Fellowships

ORUK Early Career Research Fellowship awarded to NDORMS researcher

Congratulations to Jack Tu who has been awarded an Orthopaedic Research UK Early Career Research Fellowship to explore the cause of knee pain after total knee replacement.

OCTRU - delivering answers to important clinical questions

The Oxford Clinical Trials Research Unit (OCTRU) has received NIHR benchmarking results and offers excellent value for money according to the report

Unhelpful thoughts about fracture symptoms hinder recovery

The importance of mindsets and feelings about fracture symptoms have been shown to be a key factor in recovery of musculoskeletal conditions.

Fat tissues can play a protective role against inflammation in the intestine

A new study in The EMBO Journal has revealed how fat tissues might provide a protective role in intestinal inflammation opening new lines of research into the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

NDORMS researchers awarded Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowships

Kennedy Institute researchers Mariana Borsa and Edward Jenkins have both been awarded Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships, which give recently qualified postdoctoral researchers the opportunity to start independent research careers.