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Tips for publishing in nursing journals

Nurses play a vital role on the front lines healthcare. They solve problems at life-defining moments and create systems for improved patient care. Its a demanding field, and nurses make a massive contribution to the success of their institutions and the healthcare industry.

With such an immense learning curve and the clinical expertise required, nurses at all levels should take the opportunity to share their learnings by publishing their research and findings.

Not everyone realizes it, but nurses also conduct research. Nursing research is essential and has a direct impact on patient outcomes. Because of the nature of nursing, papers in nursing journals can come from a wide range of people, some who are unfamiliar with academic publishing and its nuances.

We caught up with with Dr. Mary C. Brucker, Editor of the journal Nursing for Women’s Health — an official journal of AWHONN. She answer frequently asked questions about publishing in top nursing journals and shares techniques and strategies to set yourself up for publishing success. You can also find out more in the recent webinar she held.

Watch this free webinar with Dr. Mary C. Brucker, Editor of Nursing for Women’s Health, to learn more about developing your paper for publication in premium nursing journals like Nursing for Women’s Health. If you add your questions to the Researcher Academy Mendeley group, we will try to find expert answers for you.

Link to webinar: How to Publish with Nursing for Women's Health

From which section should we start writing the manuscript? Is there a order you suggest?

No single answer exists for this question because it really depends on the author. However, I would make a few suggestions:

  • Know what the main focus/aim/goal of the paper is, and make certain all the other parts hang on this skeleton.
  • Design an outline: an outline can help you “plug” in different sections in any order without losing the thread.

Will bad grammar and writing impact my submission?

It is difficult to quantify how “bad” is “bad” regarding writing. Minor grammatical mistakes can happen even to the most experienced author. However, if the writing is so problematic that it does not convey information, the editor may choose to decline to review or possibly reject. The authors can decrease bad writing by using their own peer reviewer group to read and critique it before submission. You can explore author resources from Elsevier and also make use of Elsevier author services if required.

Do you have tips for graduate students when it comes to publications and research?

Yes: read, read and read more. The best way to learn to write a good article is to constantly read the same. Think ahead when designing research so it is based on evidence and the presentation is logical, ethical and clinically important. And follow author guidelines for a particular journal. Lastly, please consider Nursing for Women’s Health for publication!

Should a research paper only be submitted to a single journal at a given point of time?

Yes, it avoids duplicate publication by two journals and ultimately self-plagiarism. Contrary to years ago, when a paper could languish in the system for several months before the author heard the result, the author usually receives a decision much earlier. For example, the time to first decision in Nursing for Women’s Health is about five to six weeks.

Is there any limit for number of authors ?

No, as long as they meet the guidelines for authorship. Sometimes a person may be offered authorship because they facilitated the project occurring in a facility but did no writing or even revising of the paper. There are many guidelines to identify authorship. If in doubt, consider these ICMJE recommendations.

When coming to a decision, is the editor responsible for the final decision?

Yes, ultimately the editor is the individual responsible, but I would note that reviewers are integral to the process and directly influence the final decision. But it always rests with the editor.

Which reference style do you use – for example, Vancouver style, APA, etc? Why did you choose this

specific style?

No perfect style format exists. NWH uses APA (the most current one) primarily because it is a nursing journal and nursing in general uses APA.

Since peer-review is a blinded process, should authors remove their name from the title page or will the journal do this after submission?

The author guidelines outline how a cover page is submitted separately from the paper in order to facilitate blinding. You can read the author guidelines for Nursing for Women’s Health as an example, but the guidelines may differ per journal.

I’ve heard people mention following PRISMA and SQUIRE. What are these?

These are standards regarding the format of publication for different types of research. PRISMA is to be used to report systematic reviews; SQUIRE for quality improvement projects; CONSORT for randomized controlled trials. Some information is available in the NWH author guidelines, but I encourage prospective authors to review the appropriate standards before conducting the research, and certainly before starting to write.

New researchers writing their first paper as PhDs often do make sloppy mistakes. Is this considered in terms of their junior position?

Remember, almost every article undergoes one (or usually more) revisions. So as long an article contains good information, the reviewers and I will try to help a new author (or new PhD) craft the article for publication. Do note that a dissertation/thesis/course paper are not formatted or designed to be an article. NWH actually has received papers with the faculty name and course number on it. The authors need to be familiar with NWH and follow author guidelines; that is good advice even for well-established authors.

Can authors from developing countries publish in nursing journals without any fee?

Yes. For example, many journals offer the option of publishing open access, and that option includes a fee. However, the vast majority of papers are can be published without any fees involved.

How do you deal with work that is “scooped” during the revision process? Or when papers discussing similar findings around the same time?

Although this is something that could happen, I have found almost universally that even with the same topic, most papers have different points of view. So ultimately, they are complementary and not duplicative.

Check out Elsevier’s nursing journals

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