Peer Reviewed

How to get your articles accepted, shared, and cited in the competitive world of scholarly publishing.


September 2015

Researchers estimate that the number of academic peer-reviewed papers increases by around 3 percent each year. Which doesn’t sound like that much until you consider just how many papers are being published: 1.8 million in 2012.

Although exact numbers are not yet available, that puts us at almost 2 million papers for 2015. In this sea of articles, getting your work published, shared, and cited may sound like climbing Mount Everest. But keeping a few key tips in mind can help you navigate the treacherous terrain of academic publishing.

Keep It Simple

JACR® Editor in Chief Bruce J. Hillman, MD, FACR, says that the ingredients to success are simple language and direct declarative sentences. Medical professionals sometimes use specialized jargon, obscure acronyms, and convoluted sentence structure, he says. Hillman encourages writers to be aware of this challenge and to constantly make sure their work is clear and relatable. “Produce the shortest article possible to make your point and more people will read it,” he says.

Consider Your Audience

Academic writing, as with any form of communication, is futile without an audience. University distinguished professor and director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University Chris Anson, PhD, urges writers to consider their audience as they choose their words. “You start thinking about your work and you are already steeped in that language,” he says.

JACR Deputy Editor Ruth C. Carlos, MD, suggests that writers “need to be able to translate their findings into language that is accessible to the average practicing radiologist, showing how it is meaningful in a radiologist’s day-to-day practices.” To help facilitate this, Anson encourages writers to share writing with their radiology colleagues before publication. “Have them tell you when they are totally bamboozled or don’t understand something,” he says. “Draft readers are a litmus test for giving us feedback.”

Telling a story can also be a good way to invest readers in your research. “There is room to contextualize,” Carlos offers. Adding narrative or anecdote can help readers see the big picture. It also can illuminate why the research matters and whom the findings help. This allows readers to feel personally connected to the information and makes for a more engaging read.

Though adding narrative can be a good way to add personality to an article, writers must remain committed to the facts. “Storytelling has its place, but you want to make sure it doesn’t over emotionalize a topic,” Carlos cautions. In other words, make sure the narrative you provide is focused, stays brief, and bolsters the research rather than overshadowing it.

Start Sharing

And your job isn’t over once the paper is published. Now it’s time to market your work. In addition to publicity from the publisher, many individuals are turning to social media to network.

In fact, a retrospective study directed by Jenny K. Hoang, MD, neuroradiologist at Duke University Medical Center, found that a blog post shared on social media received more than ten times the views of articles on the same topic that were not shared.

Facebook and Twitter are good places to start and both allow you to promote work to your friends, colleagues, and other followers. ResearchGate allows members to access and share research; acquire statistics about views, downloads, and citations; connect and collaborate with colleagues and other specialists in the field; and even pose questions to other researchers about similar topics. Similarly, LinkedIn provides a platform to link articles to professional resumes and facilitates connecting with colleagues and other specialists.

Practice, Practice, Practice

“Writing is a skill as much as exercising is a skill or ballroom dancing is a skill,” says Carlos. “You have to practice it.” And that means sitting down at your keyboard and getting started. “After all,” Anson says, “you can’t get good just by thinking about it.”

By Chelsea Krieg, freelance writer for the ACR Bulletin

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