By Cynthia Dunbar, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Blood
The most important factors for publication of primary research papers are the inherent quality and importance of the clinical, translational, or laboratory results you have obtained. Let’s assume that you have come up with a great idea and are capable of carrying out the best possible research. In this brief commentary, I will provide advice on how to present your research most effectively to achieve the goal of publication in Blood or other similar journals.
When you run experiments, imagine the figure that should result when you plan controls, load gels, or obtain images. If you don’t plan experiments with figures in mind, you will suffer later. Follow our image guidelines carefully; they ensure accurate depiction of data. For clinical studies, be sure to obtain ethical board/IRB approvals and register your clinical trial prior to patient entry. If you don’t, it will be too late, and your clinical paper will not be acceptable for publication in Blood or in any reputable journal. Keep meticulous records, and insist your collaborators and trainees give you access to primary data, thus allowing for independent validation of the findings and ensuring access to data required for later revisions.
Next, ask if the topic of your paper fits within the journal scope. Blood covers a wide range of topics in hematology: Our most difficult areas to define include immunobiology, non-hematopoietic stem cell biology, and vascular biology. We favor papers that have direct relevance to human hematologic diseases or physiology. I receive 10 or more papers per week at Blood on diabetes, cardiac surgery, or kidney transplantation, which leads me to believe that individuals who submitted the paper didn’t take the time to familiarize themselves with the journal. Then, ask if your paper is likely to be successful in competing for space in a high-impact journal such as Blood. Is the work novel? Does it ask and answer an important question definitively? Does it stimulate further research? We rarely publish case reports, small series, or phase I clinical trials. We strongly encourage submission of important clinical trials, even if “negative,” if the message helps change clinical care. Papers that focus on a few cell lines instead of primary cells or in vivo models are unlikely to be accepted. Please send a pre-submission inquiry to my office if you have a question regarding whether your topic and experimental design are likely to be appropriate for Blood.
Finally, let’s talk about the actual writing of the article. Be succinct and avoid “jargon.” Place your results in context, and if the studies are not fully novel, explain why your study adds significantly to the prior literature. If English is not your primary language, get help from fluent colleagues or from editorial services (listed on the Blood Web site). If you have any outside help with writing or editing, disclose the nature of the assistance. “Ghost” or undisclosed authors or editors are not allowed.
Even if rejected, we hope our review process will improve your paper. We are far from perfect, but our decisions are sincerely striving to fairly feature the best in hematologic research. We hope to allow more rapid and direct communication between authors, editors, and readers via a rapid response feature that will replace most of our Letters to the Editor section, allowing online dialogue about papers published in Blood. We hope this section will encourage our readers to participate in the life of Blood.
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