Publish, don't perish: How to get your paper in JAAD


By Kenneth Katz, MD

As medical professionals, we all know the importance of getting our papers published in reputable medical journals — they drive advances in dermatology. But on a more personal level, publication credits are vital to the dermatologist who is pursuing a career in research. Knowing a little something about how journals review submissions may just help to make the difference between publishing and perishing.

                If you follow the tips below, you just might find your work in the pages of JAAD, a top-ranked dermatology journal with an impact factor of three out of 58 in the dermatology category.

The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) receives about 1,700 article submissions each year. Of these, about 35 percent will make it into the journal’s pages. As an associate editor for JAAD, I have the job of shepherding submissions through the peer-review process, which is a major speed bump on the road to publication.

Consider these questions in crafting your submissions and you just might find your work in the pages of JAAD.

If your submission reaches my desk, chances are it will be sent to two or more editorial specialists for their scrutiny. Below are some of the questions we will ask about your work; anticipating them can help pave your way to publishing success:

  • Is it good science? It goes without saying, but a paper that fails the test of sound science will make it no further. Studies will be rejected if the methods are not sufficiently rigorous or presented clearly enough, or if the data fail to support the interpretations. Papers with complex statistical issues may be sent to a statistical reviewer to make sure the methods are sound.
  • Is it appropriate to the audience? JAAD favors articles that are of interest to practicing dermatologists. Our readers are looking for articles that impart knowledge, skills, and/or techniques that they can apply in their practices now, or, with advances in the field, in the near future.
  • Is it novel? An article may be scientifically sound and of interest to practicing dermatologists, but if it is just a rehash of what is already known, there is little value in publishing it. A good article moves the ball forward, describes new advances, and sets the stage for further development.
  • Does it have proper ethics approval? The lack of proper ethics approval is a pitfall that is easy to avoid. Studies involving human subjects must have received approval from an institutional review board or similar ethics board. Clinical trials must have been registered in an acceptable clinical trials registry. Thoroughly documenting such approval and registration can help to avoid unnecessary delays in the review process.
  • Is it well written? In addition to being sound, novel, and ethical, a good paper should be interesting and, above all, comprehensible to the reader. One way to develop a sense of good writing style is to study the medical writing published in top-flight journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), or The Lancet.

If any of the above criteria are lacking, the editor may request additional material from the author. If you receive such queries, be sure to respond to them thoroughly, in point-by-point fashion. Doing so can help speed the process and might help avoid rejection of a submission.

Consider these questions in crafting your submissions, and you just might find your work in the pages of JAAD, a top-ranked dermatology journal with an impact factor of 4.906 and a ranking by impact factor of three out of 58 in the dermatology category. I hope to see you there.

Kenneth A. Katz, MD, MSc, MSCE, is a dermatologist practicing at Kaiser Permanente in Contra Costa County, near San Francisco. He is associate editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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