All doctors should read new scientific articles from their field on a constant basis to stay up to date with new discoveries, medical approaches or unique cases, also changes for the treatment guidelines. It is important to develop writing skills to be able to publish your experience and share new perspectives on your work. Nevertheless, reading medical articles and staying informed is the secret to great publishing and continuous education. It offers a solid international base of information to process and to be able to generate new ideas, as you know the current heartbeat of your chosen field.
Reading books and writing itself, be it in your journal or on your blog, help you reorganize and articulate your ideas in a clear and convincing manner that upgrades your communication skills.
Starting as medical residents may be overwhelming as we discover the responsibility and the real impact of our work, having to study as if med school replays all over again. With all this, we have to find time for research and publishing the first article may seem a far away achievement or an unattainable one.
Here are some advices on how to start:
◼ Get used to search on PubMed different subjects/ pathologies or specific medical issues that you encounter on your daily work. In this way you are looking for information that your mind is currently processing, so you will have interest and a deeper understanding that will show up in new similar conjunctures. It will help you bridge different ideas and fixate information, as you are taking it from different sources that have their own approaches on the subject. Also, in a limited document length, you will have the main ideas to map your topic and recent research about it.
A good article can be the perfect tool that filtrates information and presents its essence reinforced by scientific research!
◼ As you go on reading on PubMed or other search engine/ database, you get familiar with the structure and the style of writing medical content and you gain professional confidence, as I like to name it. Knowing your work field brings up the desire to get more involved, question and bring to life your own ideas.
The best thing is to have a mentor that helps you grow. As residents, our activity is mainly limited or inspired by the involvement of our chief department. If you haven’t found your mentor yet, there are scholarships that you can apply to, to find inspiring people that enable you to develop in this direction.
◼ Before starting to write, you must understand how publishing works and how journals are coordinated and classified. The activity of any important journal is closely followed before the journal is included in the list of ISI indexed journals, published by Thomson Reuters. This certifies the quality of the publication, manuscript, presentational and editorial quality. All the ISI indexed journals are ranked by their impact factor in Quartiles (color coded). The official Thomson Reuters list, written in Romanian can be found on Uefiscdi and in English on the following webpages: Web of Science– Clarivate Analytics or Isindexing.com.
Therefore, try to feed your mind with high quality articles from the ISI indexed journals!
◼ If you are interested in one particular subject and you have a research idea, try to establish the keywords for the search engine and create your own article data base, to organize your reading about the published research. In this way, you can chronologically pick the top (let’s say) 30 articles that most interest you- a selection made from the abstract reading. You will read the full extent of these articles and obtain a deeper meaning on the subject that will help you contour the introduction and offer material for discussion section where you can connect your work with what it has already been done.
This process will bring new ideas and help you sketch your own research- the study design and journals that could publish it!
◼ The study itself, the results and the statistics behind them it’s a troubled journey that will bring light to how the article should be thought and the direction of the introduction and discussion sections.
◼ The road to research and writing/ publishing your results is a messy and on-going process like juggling between ideas and it may feel sisyphean. You need to work hard, with patience and perseverance and don’t be afraid to ask feedback from more experienced colleagues.
When you think you have the perfect final version of the article, you will probably have to rewrite it…
Choosing the adequate journal to submit your article is crucial and this may be a long period of waiting and adjustments. My dear friend, if all this seems impossible, just remember that “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”!- Z.Z.
So… go ahead and start reading articles and be active- attend conferences/ live surgeries and workshops on different topics to spark ideas and inspiration! Good luck! 😉