Choosing to publish your residency project is an excellent way to share what you have learned with the greater scientific community and it may position you for additional professional opportunities in the future. However, publishing your residency project can be an intimidating goal, especially given the many other responsibilities you have as a resident. Below are a few suggestions for staying on the right track to publish your residency research.
Plan to have a first draft of your manuscript completed before your residency ends. It will likely be challenging to find the time to work on the paper, keep your research team engaged and able to make the necessary revisions, and respond to reviewer comments after your residency ends. Going into your new position with a full draft in hand will be very helpful. Be sure to communicate your timeline to your team members early on so they have plenty of time to review earlier drafts and respond with feedback. With a 1-year timeline in mind, be sure to carefully consider the feasibility of the project you choose and whether it can reasonably completed within the year, with enough time at the end to complete your draft of the manuscript.
Write as you go. If your program doesn’t have internal deadlines for completing the different aspects of your research project, then create them for yourself. Tell yourself that you will have the introduction, methods, etc., written by a specific date and hold yourself accountable or ask your co-residents to do so. If you already have your literature review complete and are ready to write your internal review board protocol, you are probably ready to write the introduction section of your manuscript. You may need to update it later to reflect new literature, but it is always easier to make changes than to start from scratch. Other residents can help you to stay motivated, stay on your timeline, and give you useful feedback on your writing. If your program does not have a formal mechanism for reviewing each others’ work, reach out to your co-residents to exchange manuscript drafts for feedback.
Talk with your preceptors early in the process about the best place to publish. This will ensure that you are familiar with the journal’s requirements and style and can meet these requirements from the first draft of the paper. It may be helpful to review examples of papers from the journal during this time as well. Remember to review all instructions for authors and keep in mind first refusal rights if you presented your project as an abstract.
Review available guidance from pharmacy organizations. As examples, both APhA and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Foundation have guidance on their websites to assist residents in completing their research projects. Be sure to look at this and other resources as soon as possible to plan out your time carefully. Be prepared to stay on track for the year.
Be persistent and respond carefully to peer reviews. It is common to not have a paper accepted at the first journal you submit to, so don’t be discouraged. Schedule a time to discuss the reviewers’ comments with your preceptors and determine an appropriate journal to submit to next. When you receive reviewer comments and a request for a revised manuscript, be sure to address each comment thoroughly in your reply. Again, as re-submission deadlines emerge throughout this process, be certain to communicate openly with the rest of the research team about deadlines and when feedback is needed. This will assist you in staying on track for your re-submission.
Publishing your residency project can seem overwhelming, but with early planning and preparation, and by seeking out the help of preceptors and other residents, you can reach your goal.
Caitlin K. Frail, PharmD, is a Community Practice Research Fellow, and Margie E. Snyder, PharmD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy.