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 Table of Contents  
BRIEF REPORT
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 117-120

Effectiveness of a 1-day workshop on scientific writing conducted by the Indian journal of rheumatology


1 Department of Medicine and Incharge Rheumatology Clinic, American International Institute of Medical Sciences, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
2 Department of Clinical Immunology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Rheumatology, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
4 Department of Rheumatology, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
5 Department of Anaesthesiology and Incharge Pain Clinic, American International Institute of Medical Sciences, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
6 Centre for Rheumatology, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Date of Web Publication24-May-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Durga Prasanna Misra
Department of Clinical Immunology, C-Block, 2nd Floor, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rae Bareilly Road, Lucknow - 226 014, Uttar Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_36_18

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  Abstract 


Background: Writing a scientific manuscript is an important skill to acquire for junior doctors considering the mandatory requirement of research publications during post-graduate training and for career advancement in India.
Methods: We conducted a one-day workshop on scientific writing and publication at Udaipur in November 2017, comprising both didactic lectures as well as hands-on evaluation of a dummy manuscript, and evaluated structured questionnaires filled pre- and post-workshop.
Results: There were 120 attendees, most of whom were junior doctors with little or no prior experience in writing a scientific paper. A significant baseline knowledge deficit regarding the principles and processes of scientific writing (ranging from 20.9% to 77.3% participants for the different questions asked) could be identified before the workshop. This knowledge deficit was significantly improved in most areas as assessed after the workshop. We identified the need to discuss predatory publishing in greater detail in subsequent workshops, as 20.8% of respondents after the workshop professed that they might consider publishing in a predatory journal. As expressed in participant feedback, longer, more-specialized or advanced level workshops on scientific writing in the future could also consider including more details on appropriate statistical presentation and pictorial representation of data as well as longer time spent on hands-on exercises.
Conclusion: There remains a need to conduct more scientific writing workshops by national societies and journals all over the country.

Keywords: Academic misconduct, predatory publishing, publication, scientific writing, workshop


How to cite this article:
Goyal M, Misra DP, Rajadhyaksha S, Singh YP, Goyal N, Ravindran V. Effectiveness of a 1-day workshop on scientific writing conducted by the Indian journal of rheumatology. Indian J Rheumatol 2018;13:117-20

How to cite this URL:
Goyal M, Misra DP, Rajadhyaksha S, Singh YP, Goyal N, Ravindran V. Effectiveness of a 1-day workshop on scientific writing conducted by the Indian journal of rheumatology. Indian J Rheumatol [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Dec 6];13:117-20. Available from: http://www.indianjrheumatol.com/text.asp?2018/13/2/117/230572




  Introduction Top


Writing a manuscript is the final step after conducting a study before the findings of the same are disseminated widely. With the explosive present-day expansion in published scientific literature,[1] getting one's article accepted for publication is becoming more challenging every day. Writing a good manuscript is often the most significant hurdle to be overcome by inexperienced authors since a poorly written manuscript forms one of the major reasons for rejection.[2] Scientific writing is often not taught or emphasized adequately to trainees in the prevailing medical education imparted in India.[3] Recent guidelines by the Medical Council of India (MCI) emphasize the need for publications for the consideration of faculty promotions.[4] Therefore, there exists a need to train young clinicians in the art and science of scientific writing. In this context, we present our experience in conducting a single-day workshop on scientific writing.


  Methods Top


A 1-day workshop was conducted on publication and scientific writing at the Rabindranath Tagore Medical College at Udaipur, Rajasthan, on November 4, 2017, by the Indian Journal of Rheumatology. The workshop was directed toward residents and fellows-in-training but was also open to consultants who were willing to attend. The objective of the workshop was to impart updated knowledge on the various stages of writing a scientific manuscript, combining didactic lectures with a hands-on exercise in critically evaluating a scientific manuscript. The lectures included discussions on the Introduction-Methods-Results-and-Discussion (IMRAD) format of writing a scientific paper, referencing, publication ethics and misconduct, writing a case report, choosing the right journal for publication (while avoiding predatory journals), and tips for successfully publishing a paper.

Before the workshop, a questionnaire, created using Google forms, to assess baseline knowledge and attitudes regarding scientific publishing was circulated among registered participants using messaging tools (short message service, WhatsApp) and E-mail, and their responses were recorded and transcribed on paper. After the workshop was completed, another questionnaire (with seven identical questions to the pre-workshop questionnaire, along with other questions) was similarly circulated and filled and responses were transcribed for analysis. These responses are analyzed and discussed herewith.

For the seven identical questions in the pre- and post-workshop questionnaires, five were multiple-choice questions with a single correct answer. The last two had one critical outcome each (not naming any journal indexing agency for question number 6 and not knowing any reference style for question number 7). The proportion of respondents identifying the correct response for questions 1–5 and those fulfilling the critical outcome for responses 6 and 7 were compared pre- and post-workshop using Chi-square test utilizing GraphPad Prism software (version 6.00 on Mac OSX, manufactured by GraphPad Software at La Jolla, California, USA).


  Results Top


Preworkshop questionnaire

There were 110 respondents to the preworkshop questionnaire. Only 14.5% of the respondents had attended a similar workshop previously. Most of the participants had no prior publications (72.7%). Of the remaining respondents, 13.6%, 10.2%, and 3.5% had 1, 2–5, and >5 publications, respectively, all of whom had published in indexed journals, and 16 of them (53%) had published a case report. Ten percent had previously participated in a clinical trial. In general, most of the respondents (55.5%) did not think it worthwhile investing time and energy in writing a case report since the present regulations of the MCI do not consider case reports as publications for the consideration of promotion in academia.[4] Another 24.5% were interested in writing a case report, whereas 10% professed a lack of knowledge regarding how to write a case report. Perceived hurdles to publication (in 90% respondents) were a lack of knowledge of research methodology (32.7%), writing a paper (29.1%), how to approach a journal (18.2%), or choosing an appropriate journal (10%). A majority of the participants (90%) had high expectations of the workshop, hoping to learn enough to start publishing right away, 9.1% expected to gain orientation about publishing, whereas another 0.9% expected this to be just another workshop. A qualitative analysis of the expectations of participants revealed a general desire to acquire the tenets of scientific publishing. A couple of notable expectations, reproduced verbatim herewith, were “I expect to gain enough knowledge to make people search my name on Google instead of on Facebook” and “No new PG [postgraduate] knows the basic of publication and they are asked to write a while thesis without even telling them the ABC of thesis writing…Throw in papers and posters. So I expect it will quench the ignorance we all suffer.”

Postworkshop questionnaire

There were 120 respondents due to facility for spot registration. Most of them (88.3%) found the workshop very useful, 7.5% said that the exercise was somewhat useful, whereas 4.2% did not find it useful. A vast majority reported an increase in awareness on how to publish by 50%–75% (55.8%; <10%–1.7%, 10%–25%–2.5%, 25%–50%–12.5%, >75%–27.5%). Eighty-nine percent expected an increase in their chances of writing or publishing a case report. Most of the respondents (79.2%) said that they would not publish in a predatory journal. Suggestions were sought from respondents for improvement. Some participants felt that additional sessions on statistical analysis, pictorial presentation of data, and further details on choosing the right journals would have improved the workshop. Others felt that more hands-on exposure in evaluating dummy manuscripts as well as greater use of examples might have helped improve the lectures. It was also expressed that a 2-day workshop might have further enhanced the experience.

Comparison of paired responses before and after the workshop

[Table 1] summarizes the results. Questions 1–5 tested knowledge on the appropriate drafting of a manuscript. The workshop was successful in enabling significant improvements in the correct responses to four of these five questions, except for the question intending to assess that the discussion section of a manuscript should contain comparisons of the results of the present study with preexisting literature. There was a significant reduction from 48.2% to 12.5% of the respondents who failed to correctly name even a single journal indexing agency. Similarly, the percentage of participants unable to correctly name any single referencing style also reduced from 46.4% to 12.5%.
Table 1: Comparison of responses pre- and post-workshop

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  Discussion Top


Most of the participants in the workshop had little or no experience in scientific publishing previously. Analysis of our experience in conducting and assessing short-term implications of a single-day workshop in scientific publishing revealed a concerning lack of baseline knowledge regarding the basic structure of a manuscript, appropriate referencing and indexing of scientific publications. However, it was encouraging that even a single-day workshop could significantly improve a number of these aspects.

The significant knowledge deficit regarding scientific writing identified in participants of our workshop calls for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to help impart this skill to young doctors. This is even more essential when one considers recent regulatory guidelines mandating a minimum number of publications for career progression in the academic medical stream. One of the participants of our study lamented that without any prior training, young doctors are expected to plan and write their thesis as well as plan and prepare conference presentations and posters during their postgraduate (PG) training. Considering that the PG and subspecialty training curricula in India mandate research culminating in publication of thesis or papers as part of training, there remains a felt need to formally incorporate scientific writing as a compulsory course or paper in undergraduate medical curricula. Furthemore, there is a definite need to conduct more such scientific writing workshops by journals and national societies to help disseminate the culture of scientific writing widely in the country. A single-day workshop is constrained by time; therefore, longer, more specialized workshops could be considered in the future where greater hands-on exposure as well as more specialized sessions including those on statistical analysis could be taught.

Despite most of the participants being inexperienced scientific writers, a majority of the respondents did not show an inclination to write case reports as assessed before attending the workshop. However, most of them felt encouraged to do so after the workshop. The authors would like to utilize this opportunity to reiterate the importance of case reports. Case reports are often the first type of papers written by young authors.[5] Speaking from personal experience, submitting and corresponding in case reports help enormously in familiarizing oneself with basic editorial processes during the early stages of one's academic career. Furthermore, it is important to retain one's perspective about the limitations of evidence-based medicine.[6] There may be certain clinical situations where it is not feasible to generate evidence from high-quality randomized controlled trials, either due to the rarity of such diseases or due to specific prevalent socioeconomic situations in places where they have to be managed. Therein lies the importance of case reports, especially for trainee junior doctors and young consultants. It is unfortunate that the MCI does not recognize case reports for the advancement of career progression,[4] which was one of the major inhibitory factors for young doctors attending our workshop from intending to write a case report. A suitable middle path may be to prescribe the necessary publication of at least one or two case reports during PG or subspecialty training to ensure that the art of writing case reports is not lost to the younger generation. Senior consultants should encourage their students to write and publish scientific papers, including case reports, in an attempt to foster the culture of writing and publishing among youngsters.

A finding that generated concern among us was that about a fifth of the respondents professed that they might consider publishing in a “predatory” journal. This reflects that greater awareness needs to be spread about the emerging issue of predatory open-access publication among doctors. Publishing in predatory journals serves no purpose since such manuscripts are less likely to be searchable (and therefore citable) and do not confer respect among peers.[7] It has been observed that papers published in the predatory journals are subjected to little or no peer review;[8] therefore, genuine errors (which young authors are likely to commit and the identification of which during peer review forms a critical part of the learning curve for young authors) are not picked up before publication. Recent literature suggests that authors from all over the world, including lower-middle income countries, are susceptible to being targeted by predatory journals.[9] Since our efforts did not seem to succeed in sensitizing young authors adequately about the dangers of predatory publishing, we intend to cover this topic in greater detail in subsequent scientific writing workshops.

There remains an unmet need in the present day to teach young doctors about the science and art of writing and publishing scientific papers, more so in the light of the compulsory requirement to conduct research during PG training in India as well as recent MCI guidelines prescribing publication-based promotions. Case reports are an excellent avenue for naïve authors to initiate them to the tenets of scientific writing and hence should be encouraged. Our efforts in conducting a single-day workshop were successful in introducing most of the basic concepts of scientific writing. We identified a need to generate greater awareness among youngsters regarding the dangers of predatory publishing during subsequent workshops.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Bornmann L, Mutz R. Growth rates of modern science: A bibliometric analysis based on the number of publications and cited references. J Assoc Inf Sci Technol 2015;66:2215-22.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Balch CM, McMasters KM, Klimberg VS, Pawlik TM, Posner MC, Roh M, et al. Steps to getting your manuscript published in a high-quality medical journal. Ann Surg Oncol 2018;25:850-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
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Ravindran V, Misra DP, Negi VS. Letter to the editor: Predatory practices and how to circumvent them: A Viewpoint from India. J Korean Med Sci 2017;32:160-1.  Back to cited text no. 3
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4.
Medical Council of India. Minimum qualifications for Teachers in Medical Institutions Regulations, 1998 (Amended up to May, 2015). Available from: http://www.mciindia.org/Rules-and-Regulation/TEQ-REG%C2%ACULATIONS-16.05.15.pdf. [Last accessed on 2017 Aug 10].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
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Nissen T, Wynn R. The clinical case report: A review of its merits and limitations. BMC Res Notes 2014;7:264.  Back to cited text no. 5
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6.
Smith GC, Pell JP. Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2003;327:1459-61.  Back to cited text no. 6
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7.
Misra DP, Ravindran V, Wakhlu A, Sharma A, Agarwal V, Negi VS, et al. Publishing in black and white: The relevance of listing of scientific journals. Rheumatol Int 2017;37:1773-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
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Bohannon J. Who's afraid of peer review? Science 2013;342:60-5.  Back to cited text no. 8
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9.
Moher D, Shamseer L, Cobey KD, Lalu MM, Galipeau J, Avey MT, et al. Stop this waste of people, animals and money. Nature 2017;549:23-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
[PUBMED]    



 
 
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