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Writing for Publication in Peer Reviewed Journals - Part 2

Kim Johnson, Executive Director of ICUDDR

January 12th


We received six strong proposals for the grant to support the development of a course on publishing research using the materials created by the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE). The winner was Kenyatta University with Beatrice Kathungu, PhD as PI. It was a difficult but unanimous decision from the panel of five judges.


Having just completed a semester teaching a graduate course that included a significant amount of writing, I am reminded of how important it is to teach writing skills to our students even if they are not working on research focused PhDs. Understanding the norms and standards of writing articles for peer review can help our masters and post graduate certificate students understand how to read the research literature and perhaps strengthen their grasp on the science that they will be implementing in practice.


If you didn’t apply for the grant because your program doesn’t have the capacity to create a whole course on writing, I encourage you to join our new learning collaboratives this spring. We are hosting two writing collaboratives that use the same ISAJE material that will be used to develop the course at Kenyatta University. We will use a train the trainer approach to help faculty adapt the content to use in their courses. If you teach a research methods, statistics, addiction science or other course that relies on reading the peer review literature or has a writing component, this would be a great opportunity for you to learn from your colleagues internationally and to share your experience with others to enhance their learning. We are beginning on February 2 with a 90-minute session at 8:00 AM EST USA, 13:00 GMT (check this time zone calculator for the time in your location if you are unsure: https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/


The learning collaborative will be led by journal editors Richard Pates, Ann Mitchell and Christine Vourakis. The idea is that you will work on improving one of your own publications as you work with the facilitators on how to adapt the content to your students and your classrooms. We are using the medical education model of see one, do one, teach one. You will have a brief presentation, a review of a paper and a discussion of how to work the content into your courses. We are limiting this opportunity to two small groups of ten participants each, so send an email about your interest to Jessica at keenej@icuddr.org soon if you want to join.


My students last semester were taking Master’s level courses to become public health officials or mental health practitioners. The final paper was a systematic review of the literature on the epidemiology of a specific mental illness of their choice. I had several students who had never done a literature review and I needed to work with them on how to do a good search from figuring out the best search terms to identifying important papers. While most of the students were surprisingly good writers, some also needed help with the expository style of writing. We worked on sticking to the facts and how to document personal experience and personal correspondence. Some people had a hard time keeping their opinions to themselves! I also found that students wanted to start with the conclusion and search for articles that supported their conclusion rather than doing a literature search first, to understand the state of the research.


Since I have had many of my own papers rejected or done multiple rounds of revise and resubmit before a paper was ready for publication, I know how hard it is to see our own biases and mistakes. I am looking forward to these learning collaboratives and hope that you will join us. We need more publications from people who do research in countries other than the United States and Europe. One way to start is by being sure our students are well prepared for the publication process with its rules and processes that are easy to follow once you know and understand them.