Authors advised to include a publication strategy while planning, conducting research


 PAME-Health RAB Workshop on Medical Writing at North West General Hospital

Authors advised to include a publication strategy
while planning, conducting research

Most good journals prefer original research, epidemiological
Prospective studies or RCTs

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) in collaboration with Health Research Advisory Board (Health RAB) organized a workshop on Medial Writing at North West General Hospital & Research Center on March 16th 2017. It was attended by senior faculty members besides Postgraduate Trainees. Dr. Arshad Hussain Consultant Endocrinologist at North West General Hospital was the local coordinator. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid Chief Editor Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences who is also Secretary of Eastern Mediterranean Association of Medical Editors (EMAME) was the facilitator.

In his introductory remarks Dr. Arshad Hussain thanked PAME, Health RAB and PharmEvo for organizing this academic activity at North West General Hospital. The workshop programme consisted of power point presentations, Hands on Exercises and interactive discussion was encouraged to make the proceedings lively. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid first discussed in detail the basic principles of Medical Writing and pointed out that in order to win this publication game, it is essential that the authors follow the rules of this game which means following the  Instructions for authors which are published by every journal. If they are followed properly, it minimizes the trauma to their manuscripts. He also pointed out that International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has come up with Guidelines on submission to Biomedical Journals which are updated almost every two years. They have now also revised the authorship criteria. Most of the good peer review journals follow these ICMJE guidelines but there may be little bit of modification by every journal and the authors before making final submissions must read them carefully.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid and Dr. Arshad Hussain speaking at the Workshop on Medial Writing organized by
PAME-Health RAB at North West General Hospital and Research Center on March 18, 2017.

The importance of following ethical guidelines, avoiding plagiarism and scientific misconduct, involving the statistician from the very beginning while planning the study as he or she will be extremely helpful in calculating the sample size as well as data analysis and interpretation were highlighted in detail. The postgraduates were advised to select the topic of their study for synopsis writing carefully to make sure that they will get the number of required cases in that particular period and also make sure about the funding. If the study involves lot of expensive investigations like CT, MRI etc., they must make sure that if the patients cannot afford it, they have the requisite funding for that. They were also advised to use simple language, short sentences to tell the story in an interesting style. If the question is interesting, it will have an interesting answer. Epidemiological, prospective studies, Randomized Clinical Trials are preferred by the journals but retrospective studies are also extremely important for clinical audit. They must plan for at least six to eight months from the date of submission as peer review takes time. Good journals now also demand Ethics Committee/Institutional Review Board approval which is a must for further processing of the manuscripts to check scientific misconduct and cooked up data.

The participants were then asked to write the approved short abbreviations of ten Pakistani and international journals which are use while writing references. Unfortunately most of the authors were not aware of that. Then they were provided the answer key and also explained why knowing these abbreviations are important.

In the second part of the workshop, the participants were informed how to write a scientific paper. How to write a structured abstract, important components of an original article etc. It was also discussed in detail as to which information should come in the Introduction, what has to be covered in the Methods. Inclusion, exclusion criteria, statistical methods, software used, ethics committee approval, number of patients, their characteristics, how randomization was done, how groups were formed, what interventions were made will all come in the Methods section. Not only that if some drugs are used, its dosage, form i.e. tablet, capsule, liquid has to be given in detail. If some solution has been prepared it also needs to be described in detail. If the methods used is standard, it is enough to give its reference otherwise complete details should be given.

On left Dr. Arshad Hussain presenting Memento to Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid while on right Mr.Shaukat Ali Jawaid
is presenting to Dr. Arshad Hussain some of his books for the Library of North West General Hospital
during the workshop on Medical Writing organized at the hospital on March 18, 2017.

While writing Discussion, one should first describe briefly the findings of the study and then compare it with local, national, regional an international studies. If results are similar it is good but if they are different, it is all the more important. Then one should find out why the results of their study are different, may be there were some dietary changes, cultural changes, difference in inclusion and exclusion criteria etc. It is also important to highlight the strength of the study and what implications it has for clinical practice. Limitations of the study should also be mentioned, it will increase the chances of acceptance of the manuscript. Only a few relevant and latest references should come in the Introduction while most of the references will come in the Discussion part which is usually the largest part of the manuscript. Due to lot of pressure on limited space available, most of the journals have fixed some word limits for original articles, Reviews, Case reports , number of tables and illustrations etc., and  one has to follow that.

While writing references, make sure that they are written correctly, most of them pertain to the last five years and they are marked in the manuscript in order i.e. 1, 2, 3,4,5 and also tally with the references list at the end. Peer Review helps the authors to improve the quality of their manuscript while it is also a barrier in spread of wrong information. Different journals practice different forms of peer review which are single blind, double blind and Open Peer Review system which is considered the best as it helps improve the quality of Reviews but it is not easy to practice in a country like Pakistan. It is up to the Editor to decide which form of Peer Review they need to adopt. Reviewers, it was stated, work as advisors and not decision makers while final decision to accept or reject a manuscript lies with the Editor.

Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid further emphasized that everybody has his or her best time for writing and one should make it a fun and habit and not punishment. Studies done under compulsion are of not of good standard.  It is also important that the studies done must be published within a period of five years. He also talked about the importance, relevance of Impact Factor, demonstrated examples of Retractions and Plagiarism Check. Later the participants were given an exercise to write structured abstract. The latest format for structured abstract, it was stated consists of four sub-headings i.e. objective, methods, results, conclusion and key words. Most of the participants were able to identify the relevant information under these sub-headings.

Pakistan Association of Medical Editors in collaboration with Health Research Advisory Board organized a workshop
on Medical Writing at North West General Hospital Peshawar on March 18, 2017. Picture on left shows the senior
faculty members along with facilitator Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid and Dr. Arshad Hussain the local coordinator while on
right is the group photograph of junior doctors and trainees who participated in the workshop.

The participants were also asked to fill up the feedback form and writing their name was optional.  A review of the feedback forms showed that most of the participants were quite happy and found the workshop quite informative and interesting. They however wanted that such workshops should be organized more frequently and spread to two to three days with more hands on exercises. For a few it was very basic but for some it was a new subject and that is exactly what happens when there is mixed participation including seniors and juniors and Trainees. It is for the facilitator to make sure that it has something to offer to everyone. Senior faculty members speaking on the occasion thanked the facilitator and pointed out that when they were trained, they never had such an opportunity to attend such workshops, hence they did not learn this art of medical writing. A nominal registration fee of Rs.200/-was charged by PAME from each participant.

In the end Dr. Arshad Hussain on behalf of North West General Hospital presented a mementoes and a certificate of appreciation to Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid while he presented a gift of some of his books for the library of North West General Hospital and Research Center which has now also started a medical college and the first batch was enrolled a few months ago.

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