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Writing peer-reviewed publications Professor Robin Room. 1. Have an idea. A conceptual piece? A commentary? Only some journals are interested Probably easier for senior scholars to get published May not count as peer reviewed A review of the literature?
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1. Have an idea • A conceptual piece? A commentary? • Only some journals are interested • Probably easier for senior scholars to get published • May not count as peer reviewed • A review of the literature? • increased demands that it be systematic • Journals like systematic reviews – they get cited a lot • A meta-analysis? • Are there enough more-or-less comparable studies? • A qualitative study: what’s the question? • a conceptual orientation needed – not just a slice of life • need to specify methods, etc. • A quantitative analysis: what’s the question? • appropriate analytical methods • “bite-size” – how much can fit in one paper?
1a. From report for a government department to peer-reviewed publication • The report as framed for a government department, for instance, is unlikely to make a good journal article • Switch your thinking • from “what’s happening in this population/place?” • to “what is of general interest to the field?” • Whether: methods, patterns, relationships, testing hypotheses • Situate your thinking/writing in the literature • Pick a journal you are aiming the publication at, and read its instructions to authors
2. Introduction / background • Give an early indication of your topic and orientation • Discuss the relevant literature • Many of us get hung up on the literature review – don’t obsess • You are checking what has been done relative to your idea • In the paper, you need to summarise previous findings enough to situate your paper • Don’t put endless references without any indication of why • Indicate gaps in the literature as well as what is known • Ideally, the literature review should point to the need for your analysis to “fill a gap” • Clearly state what the paper is going to do
3. (for an empirical paper:) Material and methods • Describe the material of the study • Compress, but be very concrete • Sample frame and design, size, completion rate • If the frame is a clinical or other social-handling selection process, something on how people get there • Figure out ways of giving the actual wording of questions or categories (e.g. in tables) • Refer to technical report etc. (if available), or previous papers on the same data, for further details • Statistical methods • If you are doing something pretty standard, this can be very brief
4. Findings • A. Quantitative: • You have done a lot of runs, now the problem is how to compress as much data as possible into four tables or so • One table to set the stage: sample composition, etc. – but try to have it more than just this • Sometimes, the stage-setting is better done in the text • With logistic regressions, etc., show multiple models • Once you have the tables, writing up what is in them is a snap • But make sure there is text about all the analyses implied by the tables
The point of multiple models • Allows you to sort predictors by conceptual (potential causal) status (different disciplines have different terms for this) • Prior to everything/“explanatory” (but are demographics always prior?) • Intermediating/interpreting • Specifying • Comparing results with and without a tranche of predictors • e.g., attitudes problems, vs. attitudes consumption problems An example: predicting entry to alcohol treatment in Stockholm ...
Be inventive about summarising Beer or spirits inherently more harmful? -- It depends Significant differences in consequences of drinking, comparing beverages in surveys in 19 countries. > means ”more consequences than” per 1000 grams of alcohol. for those whose drinking is >2/3 of the type. AR (Argentina), AU (Australia), BL (Belize), BR (Brazil), CA (Canada), CR (Costa Rica), CZ (Czech Republic), DK (Denmark), IM (Isle of Man), IN (India), KA (Kazakhstan), NC (Nicaragua), NG (Nigeria), NZ (New Zealand), PE (Peru), SE (Sweden), SR (Sri Lanka), UG (Uganda), UR (Uruguay)
4. Findings (continued) • B. Qualitative: • Sort the material into themes, which should add together into a story • Enough quotes to give verismo • Keep quotes relatively short • Don’t treat qualitative data on a convenience sample as if it were quantitative • OK to say “most”, “a few”, “about half”, but don’t give % • It’s more convincing if you acknowledge not everything fits together • give an example or two of counter-instances
5. Discussion and conclusion • One section or two? • usually two, but then give them different functions • Make sense of the findings • but not by parading your prejudices • Fit them into the previous findings in the literature • Refer back to the material in the Introduction. • Mention limitations of the study • What are the next steps? • Summarise towards the end
6. Around the edges • Orient your style to the journal you are aiming for! • Length of piece, number and format of tables • Reference style • Abstract style • Authorship • If to be multiply authored, have some agreement beforehand • Keep within guidelines for qualifying for authorship • Mostly, junior researchers have more to gain than senior ones from first authorship
Around the edges (continued) • Reviewing a topic • Good publication material from an editor’s perspective – high citation rate • Suit the approach/method to the topic and its literature • Conceptual/analytic? Systematic? Meta-analysis? • Commentaries, Editorials, Book reviews • Often commissioned – who does the editor know? • Make yourself and your interests known • Propose before writing?
Around the edges (cont’d) • Choosing a journal • Impact factors and their discontents • In principle, the average number of citations per article in a two-year period after publication • Jostling for position – how to improve the factor • Alcohol/drug/gambling journals have relatively low rankings • But don’t drive yourself crazy, don’t overreach • What audience would you like to reach? Still a relevant question • Whether in PubMed, ISI, etc. indexes • But less important now because of Scholar.google • Problems for qualitative, historical, policy analyses • Online open-access journals -- the wave of the future?
Source: Babor, Stenius & Savva, Publishing Addiction Science, 2004.
The pecking order in 2007 (not a great deal of change since) Some current impact factors: Lancet 38.28 JAMA 23.20 AmJPubH 3.93 MJAust 2.89 ANZJPH 1.20
The tyranny of the two-year window The table compares the citation impact of journals in substance abuse as measured over three different time spans. The left-hand column ranks journals based on their 2009 "impact factor," as enumerated in the current edition ofJournal Citation Reports®. This is calculated by taking the number of all current citations to source items published in a journal over the previous two years and dividing by the number of articles published in the journal during the same period--in other words, a ratio between citations and recent citable items published. The rankings in the next two columns show impact over longer time spans, based on figures from Journal Performance Indicators. Here, total citations to a journal's published papers are divided by the total number of papers that the journal published, producing a citations-per-paper impact score over a five-year period (middle column) and a 29-year period (right-hand column). SOURCE: Journal Citation Reports and Journal Performance Indicators. http://www.sciencewatch.com/dr/sci/11/apr10-11_2/
Addiction journal or disciplinary journal? Source: Babor, Stenius & Savva, Publishing Addiction Science, 2004.
Reference sources for our field • Available on the web: • Babor, Stenius & Savva, Publishing Addiction Science, 2004 • http://www.parint.org/isajewebsite/isajebook/isajewebbook.htm • Miller, Strang & Miller, Addiction Research Methods, 2010 • http://au.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405176636.html