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Writing and Publishing “Best MCH Practices” Milton Kotelchuck, PhD, MPH September 30, 2002 CityMatCH Los Angeles, California.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing and Publishing “Best MCH Practices” Milton Kotelchuck, PhD, MPH September 30, 2002 CityMatCH Los Angeles, California."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing and Publishing “Best MCH Practices” Milton Kotelchuck, PhD, MPH September 30, 2002 CityMatCH Los Angeles, California

2 Objectives 1. To understand a professional journal’s functions and missions and how it relates to the MCH field’s broader dissemination activities 2. To understand the broad steps of the editorial process by which a submitted article is reviewed, improved and published 3. To understand the special challenges and opportunities of publishing practice-based articles in the MCH Journal 4. To appreciate the characteristics of successful and non- successful submission 5. To have an opportunity ask questions about the MCH Journal editorial process and procedures 6. To have an opportunity to discuss potential manuscript submissions from CityMatCH members

3 Why might you want to publish a Journal article about the “Best MCH Practices”?

4 Reasons to Publish  Share your experiences  Inform colleagues of a new program  Gain positive publicity  Validate a program’s success  Advance practice or scientific knowledge  Personal reward/advancement  Enjoy writing  Job requirement  And lots of other motivations

5 Barriers to Publish  Not rewarded for publishing  Don’t have experience  Don’t have an advanced academic degree  Don’t know the “Rules”  Don’t have the time  Hard to get practice articles published  Afraid to try  And lots of others

6 Why are MCH-focused Journals critical to our field? Why is CityMatCH a co-sponsor of the Maternal and Child Health Journal?

7 Why was there no MCH Journal until 1997?  MCH is politically and professionally a “weak” field  No consensus about the unifying basis of the MCH field  MCH has no traditional of publications  The MCH (Title V) developed before current focus on accountability and MCH epidemiology

8 Need for MCH Journal  To advance the MCH field professionally  To better help define the MCH field  Be a common forum for discourse across the entire MCH field  Capture our advancing MCH practice, research and policy knowledge  To be an advocate for MCH community

9 Maternal and Child Health Journal was initiated in 1997 after several years of planning and negotiations


11 Founding Sponsors of the MCH Journal  CityMatCH  AMCHP  ATMCH  MCH Section APHA (unofficial)

12 Maternal and Child Health Journal Five Key Areas of Focus 1. MCH epidemiology, demography and health status assessment 2. Innovative MCH service initiatives 3. Implementation of MCH programs 4. MCH policy analysis and advocacy 5. MCH professional development

13 Maternal and Child Health

14 Types of Articles  Full Articles  Brief Reports  Methodological Notes  Notes from the Field  News from the Field  Letters to the Editor  Editorials  Special Issues

15 Professional Journals Are/Should Be Only One Part of a Project’s Dissemination Strategy  A good dissemination strategy should define specific audiences and target them with specific messages  Multiple venues exist for dissemination –Brochures, Websites, NCEMCH, Newsletters, Conference Presentations,…  Professional Journal’s are only one site for presenting information about a project

16 Positive Features of Professional Journals  Peer reviewed  Prestigious/part of scientific coin of the realm  On MEDLINE and other computer-based bibliographic data retrieval systems  Archived/not part of gray literature  Disseminates our experiences, minimizes reinventing wheel  Reaches larger audiences  Creates professional community linkages  Empowers our field

17 Negative Features of Professional Journals  Often less interested in practice; more narrowly research-focused; more quantitatively rigorous  Small audiences/wrong readership  Formats are too constrained/less interesting style of writings  Often linked to professional groups, who may be more institutionally conservative

18 CityMatCH experiences/projects should be published!

19 Editorial Process in MCH (and Most Other) Journals Overview of Steps  Preparation of the article  Submission  Review and initial decision  Improvement and final decision  Publication

20 Preparation and Planning  Decide to write an article –Before, During, After Project Completion  Develop a dissemination plan –But don’t plan too many articles – or none get done  Decide on each article’s message or goals  Decide who should write the article –Authorship, Single or Multiple Writers, …  Decide on a target Journal –Read the Journal’s Guidelines!! –If unsure of appropriateness, contact the editor  Create time/space for writing

21 Writing The Hardest Step is the First Step  The first draft is the hardest  The second draft is the hardest  The final draft is the hardest  If possible have a non-project member read the article for its editorial style and content

22 A Good Manuscript Tells a Good Story  An introduction that tells why this article is needed (what’s new, what is its contribution)  Clearly stated objectives and aims  A design or approach that can address the objectives  A fully presented methodology (with critical variables defined clearly, and a (statistical) analysis section showing how the objectives will be met)

23 A Good Manuscript Tells a Good Story (cont’d)  A result section (that was logically guided by the prior methods/statistics section; with no- irrelevant analyses included)  And a discussion section which answers/discusses the original aims, plus includes sections on limitations and linkages to MCH practice  There should be a coherence structure and flow to the manuscript  Tell only one story per article

24 Submission  Submit clean carefully proofed manuscripts –Form implies substance  Cover letter to editor –Short, note any special concerns, suggest reviewer’s/non-reviewers, …  Submission logged into computer tracking system/expect acknowledgement

25 Initial Review and Decision Process 1. Editor (or associate editor/editorial committee) will initially decide if manuscript is appropriate (in content and quality) for further journal review 2. Appropriate external reviewers will be selected (using reviewer database, prior authors, suggested reviewers, COS, new people, …) 3. The article will then be sent (blinded) to three or more external reviewers

26 Initial Review and Decision Process (cont’d) 4. After nudging (using internal tracking system) receive reviewer forms will be reviewed, and an editorial review package for editor will be prepared 5. Initial editor review  Manuscript decision (accept, accept with minor changes, revise and resubmit (minor/major), reject)  Disagreement among reviewers  Decision on article type  Initial communication with author (timing, variation among journals, content, …)  Appeals to editor for reconsideration

27 Article Improvement (Revision Process)  The revision process varies by journal  In the MCH Journal, it is a critical stage; MK is an activist editor  In general, articles under revision not yet been officially accepted  Initial comments of Editor may reflect publication type, content analysis, and editorial/stylistic suggestions  Comments of external peer-reviewers provided  Revision of Articles –Decide if willing/capable of making revision –Make acceptable changes (literally and in spirit) –Right to disagree with proposed suggestions  Cover letter to Editor, with resubmission  The goal is to improve the article to better enhance its scientific and practice value to MCH field

28 Second Review and Decision Process  Editor re-reviews revised manuscript –internal and/or external review  Second decision process  Further rounds/cycles of revision –This can be a lengthy process –Deadlines maybe imposed –Major initial revision usually results in another round of revision –Many practice articles also require several revisions  The further into process the more likely to be published (but not yet assured)

29 Acceptance Rate YearAcceptedOpen (R&R) Rejected/ Inactive To Be Decided Total 199612017029 1997280 056 199837340080 1999431624083 2000361624077 2001261428068 Percent461341

30 Publication (Author Acceptance)  Acceptance letter  Finalization of article in journal style  Preparation of final package (3 copies, computer disk, transfer of copyright)  CELEBRATE!!!

31 Publication (Editorial Office)  Preparation of issue (four issues per volume/year)  Editorials requested  Communication with publisher  Submission of issue

32 Publication (Publisher Issues)  Receipt and acknowledgement of issue  Copy editing  Type setting  Pre-publication galleys sent to author and editor for their review –Usually 6 weeks after issue submitted –Minor changes permitted –Check accuracy, especially of tables! –Purchase pre-prints  Publication –6 weeks later  Automatically added to MEDLINE  Prepare PR/news stories, if desired  REJOYCE!!!

33 And Then Start Your Next Article!

34 Challenges and Opportunities in Writing “Best MCH Practices”

35  The MCH field needs them  MCH Journal wants them  CityMatCH (and others) are the source of the best and most current MCH practices  There are numerous excellent examples of MCH practice articles  But practice articles are hard to write  And most have been rejected

36 Reasons Why Practice-Based Articles Are Rejected  Description only  No effort to show how they contribute to the advancement of MCH field and MCH literature  It is repetitive of other articles, nothing new is presented  No evidence to support claim of their effectiveness  Written as brochure/PR piece – only positives mentioned  It is replication of government report – with no further analyses  Absence of thoughtful analysis of pro’s and con’s of its implementation (write manuscript for other MCH practitioners)  Lessons learned in its implementation are not discussed

37 CityMatCH Support for Community-based “Best MCH Practice” Articles

38 CityMatCH Special Issue(s) 1. Urban MCH Data Use Institute 2. Perinatal Periods of Risk National Practice Collaborative 3. Perinatal HIV Prevention Urban Learning Clusters

39 NACCHO and CityMatCH 2001 Local Health Department Survey 1. Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities 2. Women’s health 3. Data capacity and epidemiology

40 The MCH Journal would welcome more articles from CityMatCH to strengthen our Journal and our field

41 Journal Publishing in 21 st Century  Dramatic changes in works –Instantaneous electronic publication –Automatic linkages to references (CrossRef) –Inclusion of instruments, appendices –Inclusion of sound, films, etc. –Electronic access –Customized journals, text books, course packets  Improved interactive website –For subscription –For submission –For review and editorial functions –For enhanced communication

42 MCH Journal is available Online  By typing “Maternal and Child Health Journal” in your browser you will be directed to Journal’s website or  You can go directly to –

43 Special Challenge of Writing Articles in Public Agencies

44 Create Writer Support Group

45 Journal as Pedogogic Resource  To expose students to exciting topics in the field  To model writing for students

46 Summary

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