Announcing a New Editorial Policy Regarding Submission Quality

Cureus operates a free, merit-based publication system, in which we publish all articles that satisfy our requirements and contain no fraudulent or dangerous science. It is therefore the responsibility of the submitting author to meet us halfway by submitting an article draft that meets all listed requirements. Over the past several months, we’ve noticed an influx of submissions containing sloppy and careless work, much of it concerning figures and references. We’re a small team with limited editorial resources and, in exchange for offering free publication, we expect our authors to submit work that meets our requirements. (Requirements that are still quite streamlined compared to other journals, such as PeerJ.)

That is why, effective immediately, authors will have only two chances to submit a draft meeting all Cureus publishing requirements (as detailed below). Submitting an unacceptable draft will result in an editor-issued deferral. Once deferred, the author will be tasked with revising the article based on editor instructions before resubmitting.

If a second deferral follows (due to the author failing to follow editor instructions), the article draft will no longer be eligible for peer review (and publication within Cureus). This only applies to deferrals before peer review. Post peer review deferrals will not be counted against the author.

Additionally, if a submitting author has two drafts ruled permanently ineligible, as described above, he or she will no longer be permitted to publish in Cureus.

We pledge to work closely with all of our submitting authors to avoid such a scenario, but unfortunately we’ve reached a point where we must institute stricter submission enforcement due to the many poorly formatted and incomplete drafts we are receiving.

If you have concerns or questions regarding this change, please reach out to us at info@cureus.com and a Cureus team member will get back to you ASAP.

Optimizing for Mobile Users: Cureus Rolls Out Responsive Design

Roughly 25% of our community accesses Cureus via a mobile or tablet device. We’re not in the business of ignoring our users, which is why we’re happy to announce our new responsive design rollout. What is responsive design? To put it in plain terms, a responsive webpage will look great no matter how large or small your screen. When viewed on a phone (or even just a small browser window on your laptop), the page design will rearrange itself to give you, the reader, the best viewing experience. (For a more detailed response, check out this great piece by John Polacek.)

Desktop view (left) vs. Mobile view (right)

Desktop view (left) vs. Mobile view (right)

Since submitting an article draft doesn’t translate well to mobile (and really, who wants to do all of that on their phone?), this will remain a non-responsive process, designed to be completed on a desktop or laptop computer. Reading and scoring articles, posters and abstracts, however, is a perfect fit for our mobile and tablet users – and it just became easier than ever with our newly released page designs.

Quickly hop into an article on your phone with no need to resize the page or struggle with small buttons or text. Now you can read, score and share whenever you have a moment. We know how busy you are – perhaps your evening train commute is the best time for you to be active in the Cureus community. Or maybe you prefer to check out the latest published articles while relaxing in your yard. Whatever the case may be, you’ll be able to do it on your phone or tablet.

We’ll be making more pages responsive just as soon as we can – so stay tuned for more updates! Questions or comments? Shoot us an email at info@cureus.com.

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.