Writing academic publications for International Journal of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation

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Citation

The International Journal of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation (IJPTR) is an open access journal dedicated to the development of research and education in the field of therapeutic rehabilitation. It is aimed at all health professionals with an allied health background including nursing. It is important that healthcare is based on sound evidence from well conducted research. One of the benefits of writing for IJPTR is that you are writing for a group of interested health professionals from around the world who may be concerned with the same types of questions and issues that you are concerned with. Because we are an open access journal we reach an audience that may have limited access to electronic databases and peer-reviewed journals. Consequently much of our readership may have a limited understanding of research processes. It is important that authors appreciate who our target audience is. We actively encourage submissions from researchers around the globe who may have limited opportunities to publish in mainstream, closed access journals, though we also invite well published authors and researchers to submit their work to reach a wider audience. By writing for IJPTR you are engaging in self-development through a process of developing your research, refining the material for publication, opening yourself to peer-review processes and communicating your work in a clear and precise English language which is accessible to others. At IJPTR we aim to produce papers of a high academic quality which adhere to sound research processes and a good standard of academic English. To date we have received over 100 articles; of these approximately 75% have been declined without review. In considering IJPTR as the repository for your research we would ask you to consider the following major points which may increase your chances of getting into the reviewing stage of the IJPTR editorial process.

Ethics: If you are undertaking a primary study in which you are investigating human subjects, there should be evidence of sound ethical scrutiny of your study. Obvious examples of this are the use of health service ethics committees or university ethics committees. Not all countries have the same access to formal ethics committees, however if you are undertaking research on patients it is likely that the hospital or organisation where you are conducting your research will have reviewed and approved your study. In the absence of ethics approvals, the reasons for this need to be clearly stated, and there is still an expectation that your research has been conducted with due consideration for the safety, dignity and respect for your subjects. Primary studies which fail to mention ethical considerations are rejected.

Meeting our IJPTR house style: Research communities have created widely accepted guidelines for presentation and structuring of manuscripts of various study designs. IJPTR conforms to most of these guidelines. For example, Randomised Control Trials should be reported in the CONSORT format while qualitative studies should follow RATS guidelines, systematic reviews should use the PRISMA statement. There are similar guidelines for most other research designs as well. Potential authors should make yourself aware of these and follow these guidelines in presentation of your manuscript. The majority of rejected submissions fail to meet the IJPTR house style, either in relation to format, referencing and word count. IJPTR provides guidelines to help potential authors to understand what is expected and directs you to the guidelines for research stated above. Authors can further research IJPTR style by looking at previous issues. Articles that are not submitted in the appropriate IJPTR format are rejected.

English: Many articles are rejected because of poor English. IJPTR wishes to encourage submissions from round the world and we understand that English is not always a first language however it is clear that IJPTR can not publish articles that are poorly written. During the development of articles we suggest writing in plain English using short, clear sentences and working with someone who has a good command of English. If this is not possible then IJPTR does have an English mentoring scheme. If authors wish to make use of this facility then please contact the editor for further information about this scheme.

Methods: The methods section of the article should be written in full English sentences rather than as a series of bullet points. There should be enough information provided about procedural issues to provide the reader with enough information to make a clear decision about the overall quality of the study, or to repeat the study if they so desired.

Poor reporting of results: Frequently results are reported weakly and it is not always easy to understand the study findings. Sometimes results are reported using too many tables or figures making it difficult to take on board the information. Use the minimum number of tables and figures to report your findings; these should be clear and concise. Results should not be reported twice using different visual means (e.g. tables and a figure). As a rule of thumb, the number of tables/ figures/ flowcharts used in a primary study should not exceed five. Tables should be supported by a clear and succinct narrative to explain the main data that the reader needs to understand.

Limited discussion: Many rejected papers have a poor discussion section. We would ask authors to consider the following as a minimum requirement. First, there should be a brief summary of the important findings which should then be discussed in context with other studies which investigate a similar area. This will help the reader to understand the overall context of the study and how it contributes to the research in the area. Second, there should be a discussion of the strength and limitations of the study. Most articles have limitations and this is fine provided they are acknowledged and the impact of those limitations is discussed. By doing this the importance of the research is not overstated but presents a balanced interpretation of the findings. Simultaneously this can help readers to develop an understanding of important critical issues. Third, there should be a clear discussion of the clinical implications of the study. Because many IJPTR readers may not have a good understanding of research methods and literature, it is important that authors should present a thought provoking, well balanced discussion about how the findings of the study relate to clinical practice. Fourth, having conducted the study there should be some brief recommendations for further research. Finally, there should be a brief concluding paragraph which nicely summarises the main findings and the discussion.

We have identified five issues which commonly lead to rejection of articles. By addressing these issues there is an increased likelihood of submitted papers progressing to review stages. However we would also encourage reference to two publications which support academic writing. The first is published in this edition and is written by Nancy Dixon and is ideal for the person who is writing their first publication. The second is “Hints and tips on how to write for publication in academic and professional journals” and is available at www.writingforpublication.com

Good luck with your publications.

Sionnadh McLean

Editor

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