Engaging Workshop Will Sharpen Your Editing, Analytic Skills

February 18, 2019

Research is important but not always exciting. However, a session at the annual conference focused on research will not only be “fun and engaging,” says JAMDA co-editor-in-chief Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD, but participants will come away as better consumers of academic literature. They will even have some new skills that they can use to write their own research paper or to review articles for JAMDA–something that would make a notable contribution to the Society and post-acute/long-term care (PALTC) medicine.

“How to Read and Review Research Papers” is set for Friday, March 8, at 1:30 PM. Dr. Zimmerman and Philip Sloane, MD, MPH, JAMDA’s other co-editor, together with senior associate editor Paul Katz, MD, CMD, will provide a hands-on opportunity to learn how to critically write, read, and review scientific literature.

Participants will work in small groups facilitated by JAMDA editors and editorial board members, discussing and critiquing a paper that was recently submitted to the journal. Dr. Zimmerman says that anyone planning to attend the session should download the paper from the annual conference website and read it beforehand.  

Even if you’re not an academic, Dr. Zimmerman notes, you could well be a JAMDA reviewer in the making. “You don’t have to be an expert on every topic. We match articles with reviewers’ area of expertise and interest,” she explains. “And reviewing papers actually helps you become more savvy at interpreting research and understanding how to translate it into practice.” Indeed, you don’t have to be a research expert going into the session, but you’ll be much more informed afterwards, Dr. Zimmerman predicts.

If you are intrigued about writing an article but don’t know where to start, Dr. Zimmerman urges you to attend this session. “In many ways, academic writing is easier than other writing because it’s formulaic—with an introduction, then sections on methods, analysis, results, discussion, and implications. If you realize that and then tackle the writing in smaller ‘chunks,’ it’s easier than you may think,” she says.  “It’s like taking a hike. If you think about the length of the entire trail, it can be intimidating. But if you just focus on traversing each hill on the trail as it comes, the excursion is less formidable.” Dr. Zimmerman adds, “When you write, you have to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. You want to state things in a way that will be clear, and anticipate and answer questions a reader might have.”

The key to writing a good paper is having a solid, well-thought-out idea. Dr. Zimmerman says, “Sometimes people submit a paper without thinking through if it will be a true contribution to the literature. The fact that ‘a’ relates to ‘b’ may be statistically significant, but it may mean nothing in terms of practice or policy.” If you have an idea for an article or a research question you want to answer, Dr. Zimmerman suggests, discuss it with your colleagues and see if it’s something they would find useful and that would contribute to the literature.

Attendees will gain valuable new skills during this session, Dr. Zimmerman says. “By learning more about how to write and review a paper and offering to review JAMDA submissions, you’ll make an important contribution to the field. Everyone has a stake in evidence-based practices, and this is one way to promote the best studies.”

Read more about the workshop and other conference sessions here; and click here to register for the annual conference. Drs. Zimmerman, Sloane, Katz, and the rest of your Society family look forward to seeing you in Atlanta.