Tips for Trainees by Jonathan Chung: Publishing a Case Report (Part II)
Click here to read Part I of this 2-part blog entry.
- Outline before you write. The most important part of the outline and paper is your rationale as to why you believe your case report to be a valuable addition to the literature. Write this first so that you know how to build the rest of your outline. It will help you see the forest so you don’t get lost in the trees. Once you have put together an outline, show it to your junior mentor; make any necessary changes. Then, show it to your senior mentor.
- Draft a paper using a few case reports from your target journal as templates. Carefully follow the author instructions available on the journal’s website. Don’t worry too much about grammar or punctuation on your first draft. The idea is to get all your ideas on paper. At this point, I start inserting citations as Pubmed ID numbers (PMID) to facilitate forming the bibliography later with Endnote or another reference management software program.
- Revise. I heard someone say, “There is no such thing as a good writer, only good revisers.” Though somewhat laborious given the amount of work you have already put into your paper, this is one of the most important steps in manuscript preparation. Poor organization, grammar, spelling, or punctuation detracts from the clarity of your report, which may lead the reviewers to reject it. This is especially true of case reports. Since they are shorter articles, case reports are actually MORE difficult to write well. Every word and sentence counts. Cut out the dross and polish until it shines. Show it to multiple people whose opinions you trust; they don’t have to be in medicine. I have asked my wife (an accountant by training) to read my manuscripts. She always makes them better.
I hope this helped you in your journey to publication. If you have any questions, drop me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am always happy to help out eager residents and fellows.
For those interested in how to write a scientific article, I refer you to Dr. Mark Kliewer’s informative AJR article