Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research
Researchers are taught to do research, not to write papers. It’s a familiar refrain, and the reason for our flagship week-long course, Publication School.
What better way for the EQUATOR Network to reach its goal of improving the global quality of health research reporting than by empowering health researchers from around the world to write excellent papers? This year’s participants learnt everything about the publication process, from picking a journal, to writing a detailed methods section, to engaging with communications officers and blogging about the final paper.
The 2016 Publication School cohort included physiotherapists, GPs, medical writers, and systematic reviewers. Some had written many papers, others were just starting on their academic journey. All had clear goals: to write better papers, get more comfortable using reporting guidelines, and go back to their home institutions with new knowledge to share.
As EQUATOR UK Centre Deputy Director Iveta Simera says, reporting guidelines are shopping lists for busy researchers, helping to ensure no important detail is forgotten from a research paper. Following a reporting guideline makes health research papers easy to write and easy to read.
We used CONSORT for clinical trials and STROBE for observational studies to write rough drafts of papers in just three days. Our guest editors and statisticians were also on hand to share tips and tricks for writing polished papers reviewers will love, increasing the chance of a fast and successful publication.
The modern researcher can reach a much wider audience when they think beyond the traditional research paper and explore avenues like blogging and social media. Doctors and patients need to be able to understand and implement health research, if it is to be truly useful.
Blogs are an excellent way to make research articles accessible to different audiences. Andre Tomlin of the National Elf Service led the group in a whirlwind 2 hour blogging challenge, critically appraising a piece of health research and writing it up in an accessible format. You can read the result at the Mental Elf site.
In keeping with the course emphasis on putting new knowledge into action, School participants took to social media to share their key messages from the course. “Research needs to be new, true, and important. Tell it to a 10 year old!” read one tweet.
Publication School is run by the EQUATOR UK Centre, which is embedded in the Centre for Statistics in Medicine at NDORMS, University of Oxford. This year’s course was run in collaboration with our colleagues from the EQUATOR Australasia Centre.
How did a journalist end up in the EQUATOR Network team? That is a question I hear very often: what is a journalist doing working among medical doctors and statisticians? What is your role? Well, it started very early...