To publish or not?

January 1, 2008

Sacramento, Calif. - Publishing in dermatologic and other peer-reviewed journals can boost a dermatologist's credibility, knowledge base, ego and sense of giving back. But doing what it takes - doing the research, writing the paper, submitting the manuscript and making necessary corrections - requires significant time and energy for a task that does not directly boost income.

Key Points

Publishing credits

Suzanne L. Kilmer, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at University of California, Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, has published in top journals, including Nature, Archives of Dermatology, Dermatologic Surgery, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine and others.

"Publishing helps to increase awareness of your specialty to referring medical doctors," Dr. Kilmer tells Dermatology Times.

"And you can use published papers as a marketing tool to patients, approaching the local, regional or national media with what you have found; making copies available to patients in your waiting room; and by posting study references on your Web site to let patients or would-be patients know that you are up on the latest in an area that might interest them," she says.

Lots of options

Dermatologists who want to publish in a journal should think of their goals. If it is to gain credibility for your research, you might look toward the most prestigious journals, Dr. Kilmer says.

"There are certain journals that are more prestigious, but are not read as much by the general population," Dr. Kilmer says. "So, you have to ask yourself, is it important just to get the news out? Is there a specific audience you want to reach? Or do you want to be singled out as having premier research and being published in a top journal?"

Science and Nature are the Holy Grail journals among scientists, researchers and physicians worldwide. The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine are among the peer-reviewed journals that carry the most clout among medical journals.

Those journals that carry a lot of weight in American dermatology, Dr. Kilmer says, are Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,Archives of Dermatology, Dermatologic Surgery and the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

The next tier of more specialized journals (which tend to be easier to publish in and are read by dermatologic peers) include Experimental Dermatology, Cutis, Journal of Cutaneous Laser Therapy and others, she says.

Break into publishing

Dermatologists who have done clinical studies and research and have a case study or other information that would be of value to readers have a shot at getting their work published, Dr. Kilmer says.

Once you have that hook, she says, you should research the best journal for submission.

"When making submissions, submit the whole paper," Dr. Kilmer says. "And be sure to write it according to the journal's guidelines for the type of paper you are submitting."

The types of submissions include clinical studies, case reports, review articles and even editorials.

If you do not like to write, consider hiring a science or medical writer to help you along. Sometimes, corporations funding studies have writers on staff willing to help put the research to paper. But do not, Dr. Kilmer says, have another writer write the whole paper. The paper and its contents have to come from the researcher. So, writing it has to be a collaborative effort, with the dermatologist taking the lead.