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Writing to Publish: The Editor’s Perspective

By Alix Berglund and Julie Nettifee

The first CMI Associate Member workshop, “Writing to Publish,” was held at Hunt Library on February 28. This workshop provided an opportunity for graduate students to meet, interact, and discuss aspects of publishing peer-reviewed articles with three well-known editors of prestigious journals: Dr. Gregory Copenhaver, co-Editor-in-Chief of PLOS Genetics; Dr. Peter Johnson, co-Editor-in-Chief of Tissue Engineering and Dr. Hillary Sussman, Executive Editor of Genome Research. More than thirty CMI Associate Members attended the event.

Publishing research is critical for the success of any scientist and gaining these professional skills early in one’s academic career strengthens long-term opportunities for increasing the impact of that research. Learning how to craft your abstract, is the “single most important aspect of getting your research through triage,” emphasized Dr. Peter Johnson. Adding that the novelty of research methods, design, and data is a key consideration for editors when choosing which papers to publish. Dr. Hillary Sussman stressed that taking into account the readership and presenting your research in a way that can be appreciated by the journal’s audience is critical for getting a paper accepted in the more specialized journals. She also remarked that researchers should consider how to share their findings with the public via websites, blogs, Twitter and other social media sites.

Learning how to navigate editorial concerns, questions, or rejection of a manuscript are also integral parts of the publishing process. “It is always important to follow-up with editors, especially when there are concerns,” noted Dr. Copenhaver, “however, if there are issues, you can either add a little or a lot of cayenne pepper to the mix. If you add too much too soon, it is unlikely you will have a positive response during the encounter or perhaps in your future.  If you work with editors and develop your skills, there are opportunities for positive outcomes,” he added.