Posted on 10/10/2012 at 02:27:13 PM by Suzanne PriceBy Darren Early
As part of its educational mission and in an effort to improve the quality of manuscripts submitted to its journals from China, ASN recently held its first author workshop in China. The workshop, entitled “Principles and Tools for Success in Publishing in Clinical Nutrition and Nutritional Sciences,” was sponsored by ASN, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), and The Chinese Journal of Clinical Nutrition (CJCN), with approval from the Chinese Medical Association. Held in Beijing, the two-day workshop kicked off on September 24 with the ASN President, Dr. Teresa Davis, introducing ASN to over 40 Chinese nutrition researchers in attendance. Dr. Davis summarized ASN's mission, membership, society structure, and major areas of activity (scientific conferences and publications). She explained that one of ASN's priorities is to build global collaborations and that the workshop represented a step in that direction. Dr. Zhu-Ming Jiang, the Editor-in-Chief of CJCN, also gave some welcoming remarks and introduced the workshop speakers.
The focus of day 1 of the workshop was on scientific methodology. Dr. Dennis Bier, Editor-in-Chief of AJCN, gave 3 presentations. (View a video excerpt here). He began by speaking on the topic of understanding nutrition evidence for publication and stressed the importance of having a formal systematic approach to evaluating evidence in nutrition. A summary of this presentation can be read here. Dr. Bier's second talk was on outcomes as determinants of publication priority. He emphasized the value of a good hypothesis with an explicit predetermined outcome variable. He drew a distinction between traditional research endpoints, such as clinical and biochemical effects, and endpoints for outcomes research, which consist of “effects that people care about,” such as quality of life, use of healthcare services, and cost/benefit analyses. He explained that by using Mendelian randomization, nutrition scientists could better determine whether or not a particular factor, such as a phenotype or surrogate marker, was actually on the causal pathway to a particular outcome. He gave the example of C-reactive protein (CRP) and risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD). Different CRP genotype combinations lead to increasing CRP concentrations and corresponding increases in theoretically predicted risk of IHD; however, when one looks at observed risk of IHD, the predicted pattern is not seen, and risks actually decrease with increasing CRP concentrations. Thus, CRP is most likely not on the causal pathway for IHD. Dr. Bier's final presentation focused on philosophical considerations in selecting a research topic. He told the researchers that they should select only topics that were of great interest to them and that good research questions lead to more questions. He also warned the audience that finding good research questions would not be easy and that they should steer clear of research areas in which they could readily predict where the science would be in 5 years. During the remainder of day 1, the attendees heard presentations in Chinese on the following topics: study designs in clinical nutrition for translational medicine (Dr. Zhu-Ming Jiang, Editor-in-Chief of CJCN), lessons learned from human trials for carotenoid intervention (Dr. Xiang-Dong Wang, Tufts University and ASN Director of Asia Scientific Program), power analysis for randomized and observational studies, and assessing the quality of clinical trials and the proper steps for conducting meta-analyses.
On day 2, the workshop turned to writing and the publishing process. As ASN's Director of Journal Editorial and Production Operations, I started the day off with a presentation on selecting the right journal. I emphasized the importance of finding the right fit between a manuscript and a journal and the critical need for authors to understand and follow a journal's instructions to authors. Dr. Philippa Benson of The Charlesworth Group, which assisted ASN in developing and presenting the workshop, then spoke on writing strategies. She explained that many problems were not actually writing problems but instead problems of journal selection or science; good writing comes from rewriting. I also spoke on authorship issues and laid out clear criteria for who should and should not be an author.
Dr. Benson also gave presentations on manuscript submission, responding to decision letters and reviews, and scientific misconduct and ethical issues. During those presentations, she offered many tips on how to avoid annoying editors, including using a presubmission checklist, responding point-by-point to decision letters and reviewer comments, and avoiding unethical behavior, such as fabricating data and plagiarizing. In the afternoon, Dr. Davis helped demystify the peer review process for the ASN journals by explaining the roles of the Editor-in-Chief, Assistant Editors, Associate Editors, and peer reviewers and by reviewing the overall peer review workflow. Finally, I ended day 2 with a talk on trends in digital publishing in the United States. Among the items covered were the importance of XML to the digital publishing workflow, DOIs and CrossRef, Open Access, and types of digital publication beyond journal websites, including videos, podcasts, social media, RSS feeds, and mobile websites.
ASN is very pleased with the success of this first author workshop in China! The attendees asked many good questions and indicated that they found the workshop very helpful. The ASN faculty likewise gained from the experience and enjoyed their time in Beijing. We look forward to future global collaborations of this sort!