Calling All Academic Departments: It’s Time to Share Your Hard Work With the World

Close your eyes and picture the following (it probably won’t be difficult):

Your academic department is full of hard-working researchers and practicing physicians. Cutting edge research and innovative clinical experiences are everywhere. Trusted veteran physicians and up-and-coming stars are working together. All of your department’s faculty and residents know that their collective work is making a difference. Worthy of praise, funding and patient referrals.

But does anyone else know?

By partnering with Cureus you can ensure that fellow physicians around the world are updated on the latest and greatest from your department. All Cureus channel partners receive their very own branded, quarterly email digests that are managed and sent by Cureus.

Featuring hand-picked, recently published articles from your department as well as author head shots, a Cureus quarterly digest is an excellent way to raise awareness surrounding your department, boost the profile of up-and-coming faculty and even gain patient referrals.

We invite each of our channel partners to customize their quarterly’s messaging to fit their department’s unique goals. With thousands of recipients and sky-high open and click rates, we’re confident that a Cureus quarterly digest is the best value for your department’s marketing budget. Take a look at the examples below, and contact us at info@cureus.com to learn how your department can reach physicians and researchers around the world.

Note: partial view of quarterly digest.

Note: partial view of quarterly digest.

Note: partial view of quarterly digest.

Note: partial view of quarterly digest.

The Value of “Small Science”

“Let me tell you about an interesting case.”

“I’m having trouble with a patient, can I get some advice?”

“Help, my patient is dying on me and I cannot for the life of me figure out what’s wrong.”

“While caring for this patient, I learned something kind of cool last week.”

Have you or a colleague uttered such things in the past few days, weeks or months? Throughout my own clinical practice in an academic setting these types of utterances happened on a daily basis, if not many times a day, albeit sometimes merely under my own breath.

It is a fact that we physicians, even the smartest among us, still have a lot to learn, and vice versa, have a lot to teach through such experiences. Our clinical practices are sometimes influenced (usually for the better) by prominent, well-funded, randomized clinical trials, but more often it is the humble practical knowledge learned from one another that separates the satisfactory from the great physician. In my chosen specialty of neurosurgery, I have observed that there is not two or three bits of knowledge that make for a great operation. Instead the best surgeons have a grab bag of literally thousands of largely undocumented tricks (patient selection, choice of instrument, anatomical insights, manual skills, techniques, etc.), which make for their success. Much of this knowledge continues to get acquired the old fashion way – via trial and error in the trenches of medicine. Amazingly, in a world of more than 5,000 medical journals we all too often find ourselves repeating one another’s mistakes and relearning lessons previously learned by others. Why is this?

I believe that the above situation stems in part from a medicine-wide failure to formally acknowledge the true value of practical knowledge, or what we at Cureus like to refer to as “small science.” In many ways this is illustrated by how most medical journals see their mission, especially those with a coveted high impact factor. For example, the Instructions for Authors section in JAMA is almost half the length (in words) of Joseph Conrad’s the Heart of Darkness. Filled with complex guidelines for statistical processes and data reporting, the focus is on academic researchers who themselves are focused on climbing the ranks of academia as much as they are the knowledge at stake. The complexity of such processes, and even the associated financial costs in open access journals, intimidates too many of the busiest practicing physicians who have amazing clinical experience and insights but lack the time and arcane knowledge of contemporary journal publishing processes. As an Editor-in-Chief of Cureus this strikes me as a tragedy; some of the most knowledgeable clinicians have no forum for passing on their hard-won insights.

Our mission at Cureus is to use technology and a new philosophy of post-publication peer review to strike a better balance between process and the more efficient reporting of valuable clinical science. Our goal is to make it easier than ever for busy physicians in the trenches of medical practice to document the important things they learn on a near continual basis. Ultimately if some clinical observation is important enough for an overworked physician to invest time in writing up, we at Cureus are delighted to help with the task.

Enhance Your Published Article by Adding a Patient Reported Outcome

Have you published an original article or case report featuring a patient who would want to share his or her story? Contact your featured patients and tell them about this exciting opportunity to describe their experience in a way that fellow and future patients can understand.

Let’s be frank, journal articles aren’t the most accessible reading outside of the medical community. Adding a Patient Reported Outcome (PRO) is a fantastic way to highlight clinical experience from the perspective that matters most – the patient’s. Preparing for treatment can be a stressful, frightening time. Hearing from someone who’s already experienced it – all in their own words – can make a world of difference when deciding who to entrust with one’s health.

Here’s how it works, and remember that publishing a PRO alongside your article is free!

We ask that you reach out to your patient first. Once the patient has agreed to participate, we’ll take over from there – it’s that easy! When the patient has submitted his or her PRO, we’ll edit for spelling and grammatical errors; their words will otherwise be published as is, with no interference from the article authors or Cureus staff. PRO authors can also include supplemental images.

Here’s a few examples:Transient Tumor Volume Increase in Vestibular Schwannomas after Radiotherapy and CyberKnife Ablation for Intramedullary Spinal Cord Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs): A Promising New Therapeutic Approach

Take advantage of this unique feature to make your published article something special. Reach out to your featured patients and contact graham.parker@cureus.com to learn more!

Measles, the Anti-Vaccine Crowd and the Peer-Reviewed Article Partially to Blame

A big measles outbreak in the US is generating considerable news of late. Much of the blame, rightfully so in my opinion, is centered on parents who have refused to vaccinate their children out of ill-founded paranoia. Most of their anti-vaccine “thinking,” if you can call it that, is grounded in muddled anti-science. However, one of the intellectual pillars of the anti-measles movement is rooted in peer-reviewed science. And not just any science, but none other than the acclaimed high impact journal Lancet. To my way of thinking this is a big part of the problem.

Andrew Wakefield’s much ballyhooed and eventually discredited 1998 Lancet article, concluded that childhood vaccines were a possible cause for autism. Parents of autistic children seized upon this possibility, especially A-list celebrity Jenny McCarthy, invoking the Wakefield article as proof of their fears. Unable to weigh the scientific merits for themselves, the fanatical anti-vaccine public at large ascribed considerable veracity and power to the Wakefield article in large part because of its publication in Lancet; although undoubtedly this article also reinforced a narrative they wanted to believe. Like most of its peers within the “luxury” journal domain, Lancet revels in every opportunity to burnish its reputation for publishing “important,” high quality science and in doing so, laughing all the way to the bank. It is impossible to believe that had the Wakefield article been published in the Burmese Journal of Gastroenterology it would have gotten nearly the same zealous respect it did in Lancet.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t fault Lancet for publishing a bad paper; such risk is intrinsic to publishing a peer-reviewed journal. However I do take issue with the reputation Lancet seeks to foster around impact factor and by intimating that their peer review process results in a meaningfully more valid scientific publication; the Wakefield article being a perfect case in point of why this thinking is flawed. Any scientist with integrity knows that the proper perspective for approaching all scientific publications involves a substantial dose of skepticism until the findings within have been replicated, oftentimes more than once.

Despite its subsequent retraction, Wakefield anti-vaccine believers refuse to relent, claiming even today that allegations of scientific misconduct are a conspiracy at the highest levels of science. If the Wakefield article had instead been refuted by a democratic barrage of post-publication critique and scoring, ala SIQ, it would be much harder for the anti-vaccine fanatics to keep believing in discredited science. That said, as long as luxury journals are perceived as having a uniquely rigorous peer review system, and therefore uniquely truthful, the public health will be disserved as we are currently witnessing in this measles outbreak. We at Cureus continue to believe that there is a better process via more rigorous post-publication review, as implemented in our SIQ. Give it a chance – you’ll be surprised.

Is your Academic Department Getting the Most Out of its Marketing?

Thousands spent on traditional mailer campaigns. Countless hours spent printing, packing and sending department-produced newsletters or magazines. How many are dumped in the recycling without being opened? Every academic department with a serious interest in promotion needs to ask itself – is that investment of time and money really worth it?

In a word – no. We live in an increasingly digital age, and although some industries continue to do things the old-fashioned way, paying to produce a mail a hard copy newsletter or magazine just isn’t efficient anymore. We’ve created Cureus Channels as a way to fill this void while taking full advantage of all the latest and greatest digital technology.

Your department’s custom, branded Channel homepage serves as the one-stop shop for all of your latest published research and clinical experiences, as well as departmental news, media, event info and more! What’s more, we’ll also send out a branded quarterly email digest highlighting some of your latest articles and their authors. We work with you to fashion each quarterly digest to your liking – you pick the articles and authors to feature and supply a short introductory message and we take care of the rest!Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 11.58.29 AM

Promote up-and-coming faculty, gain referrals and raise your department’s profile throughout the medical research community with a Cureus Channel. Contact me today at graham.parker@cureus.com to learn more.

Publishing with Cureus for the first time? Check out our new how-to videos!

New to Cureus? Has it been awhile since you last published with us? Good news! Our revamped Author Guide now features a series of short, snackable how-to videos designed to walk you through each step of the article submission process.

Just click the blue video icon next to select headers located throughout the Author Guide to view a short video walking you through that specific step of the submission process. We recommend taking a few minutes to watch the videos for each of the eight article submission steps before beginning the process. Taking ten minutes now will save you time later!

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An Introduction to Cureus’ First Student Ambassador

The processes of peer-reviewed medical science have been around a very long time with the New England Journal of Medicine even passing its 200th anniversary last year. It, like many other old journals, has become venerated for the important science reported over the centuries, and in conjunction, there has evolved the aura of scholarly respect and status. In fact the prestige of a journal, perpetuated by medical school tenure processes, and as quantified by Impact Factor, is roughly proportional to the age of the journal. Roughly speaking, old journals are prestigious, while new journals tend not to be; academic medicine tends to be a very tradition-leaning and status-conscientious community! Despite its relative youth, Cureus’ leadership team also includes a number of senior academics, some of whom have five decades of medical publishing under their belts. Our advisor and former editor at JAMA, George Lundberg, is a perfect example; experience always has a lot to teach us all.

Despite medicine’s veneration of history, it cannot be denied that the future belongs to the young, and just possibly, they might choose to evolve peer-reviewed journalism in new directions. In the past decade, youthful exploits have truly transformed human culture and commerce, with Facebook, Google, Uber and AirBnB being only a few cases in point. In many ways the pace of social change seems to be accelerating on the backs of the young. To date, youthful exuberance has not been part of science, however, Cureus is hoping to change that. As we aspire to be a new concept in peer-reviewed medicine, we would like to introduce Cureus’ first medical student ambassador, Paul Windisch, from the University of Munich. Paul’s role at Cureus will be to help introduce our tools for publishing peer-reviewed science to a new generation of physicians and simultaneously provide our team with a deeper insight to the needs and aspirations of younger doctors.

When stepping into this new role, Paul was quick to encounter a little bit of skepticism among fellow students. Their concern was whether or not publishing an article in a newer journal like Cureus, and thereby not publishing in a more conventional journal, might negatively impact the career of an aspiring young academic; many professors have stressed the importance of publishing in the most highly-regarded journals. My counterargument is that by all means it’s good to publish in prestigious journals, but do not let that dissuade one from publishing in Cureus as well. To publish in Lancet or Nature or NEJM is a very time-consuming process with much of the effort being expended throughout the rationing process of responding to multiple rejections, each one eating up precious time that might have gone into publishing yet additional papers. The most successful scholarly careers in medicine tend to combine important papers in highly-regarded journals AND much more numerous peer reviewed articles in lesser-known journals. Quality (or at least the perception of such) is important, but so is the QUANTITY of one’s scholarly work as one seeks to become known and rise through the academic ranks. As the maxim “publish or perish” clearly implies, it is important to publish frequently as one seeks to build an academic reputation. Need I remind you, Cureus makes that process easier than ever. Just maybe when Cureus has enough of its own storied history in the future, the aura of our articles will bring the cachet of academic tradition as well!