Editorial

Writing for publication: have a clear message and share new ideas

Nurse researchers should always ask the ‘So what?’ question – what does my paper add to our current knowledge and what can a person learn and take away from it

When writing for publication have a clear message and share new ideas
Picture: iStock

The growing pressure in academia to publish or perish has led to an exponential growth in the number of journals and volume of papers published. While increasing the number of researcher outputs may be seen as a measure of productivity, there is emerging recognition of the need to consider quality.

Commonly used quality metrics stem from the quality of the journal ranking, or from a paper’s citation count. Nurse researchers must develop a clear understanding of these metrics to optimise the evaluation of their publication.

For example, publishing in the highest-ranking relevant journal and using social media or other methods to disseminate the paper to others who might subsequently cite it. However, a paper must be sufficiently robust to be published in a quality journal and be of sufficient interest to others to cite it in their work.

Keep the key messages for the reader in mind

When developing a paper for publication, be it a report of original research or a methodology paper, keep in mind the key messages for the reader. Many papers that I see are well written, clear descriptions of a particular methodological approach.

But high-quality papers move beyond simply restating what is known to add some new knowledge or ways of understanding to the literature. This involves critical synthesis comparing and contrasting what is already known and what has been found or is being presented to highlight its implications or their practice.

When the messages are clear, and a paper makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic, it is more likely to inform future work and be cited by others.

Ask yourself the ‘So what?’ question

Given its importance in measuring quality I would challenge you as you write your next piece of work to ask yourself the ‘So what?’ question. What does this paper add to our current knowledge and what can a person who reads this paper take away to change what they are doing.

Drawing out these aspects ensures that your contribution to the discussion adds a new piece to the knowledge puzzle.

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