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Medical Research Publication: An Insider’s Guide

Published:January 22, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arthro.2020.01.008

      Abstract

      Most original scientific articles submitted to high-impact medical journals are not accepted for publication. Reasons for rejection are diverse, and tips and pearls to improve chances for acceptance are manifold. Four essential points could maximize the chance that submission of a scientific article will result in acceptance and publication. First, before initiation of a study, it is valuable to state a hypothesis detailing what one expects the study to show. Second, the conclusion should be based exclusively on, and not overreach, the results. If researchers start with a hypothesis, describing the conclusion is simple; the results either do, or do not, support the hypothesis. Third, the methods must address the purpose of the study. This sounds obvious, but poorly designed methods can fatally flaw the study, so methods should be written before initiation of a study, and this is the time to seek expert advice regarding whether one’s methods could be improved. Fourth, a prospective power analysis will ensure the study includes a sufficient number of patients to avoid failure to detect a difference between study groups due to an insufficient sample size (β error). In summary, before starting a study: state the hypothesis, write the methods, perform a power analysis, and conscientiously review these 3 essentials with both expert mentors and a statistician. Finally, this will mitigate against fatal methodological flaws, and the results of the study will clearly support the study hypothesis—or not—resulting in a definitive conclusion. In the end, authors following these essential guidelines could have improved odds of having their research submissions accepted for publication in a prestigious peer-reviewed medical journal such as Arthroscopy or Arthroscopy, Sports Medicine, and Rehabilitation.
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