Writing for Peer-Reviewed Publications: Top Tips from the PHC Writing Workshop

Writing for Peer-Reviewed Publications: Top Tips from the PHC Writing Workshop

Jessica Inskip and Pat Camp


Writing doesn’t come naturally to many of us – especially writing for peer-reviewed publications – but a combination of good strategies and scheduled practice can still set us up for success. Here are some tips and tricks discussed at a recent Writing Workshop that can support us all to be better writers.


Schedule writing time

Put daily or or every-other-day writing into your calendar and keep this appointment with yourself! It is easy to push off writing with clinical obligations, short term deadlines and endless emails, but the daily, or every-other-day, practice helps us train our writing muscles and get words on the page. Write even when you are feeling stuck; identify small tasks and quick wins that you can focus on when the going gets tough.


Make a writing group

A weekly writing group is another strategy for writing success. The act of checking in with someone else (in person or over skype) and sharing your writing goals and deadlines helps keep everyone accountable.


Start with an outline

The blank page can be daunting for any writer. An outline provides the skeleton for the research paper and can help guide your writing sessions. Start with the headings of the main sections (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion) and then begin to outline each section. Like a funnel, your introduction starts broadly and focuses quickly towards your main purpose. The methods outline what you did with enough detail that they could be recreated by other researchers. The results describe the population studied and the primary and secondary outcome measures. Finally, the discussion starts with a recap of your main results, puts these into context of existing research, and addresses the study’s limitations.


Identify potential journals

To choose a journal for submission, it’s helpful to think about the audiences you want to reach with your research. What kinds of people might change their practice on the basis or your results? What journals are your colleagues or mentors reading regularly? Once you have narrowed down to a short list of journals, identify which of those journals regularly publish articles using similar techniques to yours? Similar sample sizes? Finally, read the author guidelines and use these to ensure your submission conforms to all of the rules.


Celebrate successes and learn from rejections

People rarely have their first paper accepted; rejection is part of the peer-review process. While this process almost always makes a paper better, it can be frustrating for everyone involved! Share your successes and your failures with your team and ask for help from your PHC colleagues.


Interested in participating in a Writing Club with other PHC Clinicians and Researchers? Contact Aggie Black (Research Leader) at ablack@providencehealth.bc.ca for more information.