What makes a physician decide to publish in peer-reviewed literature? The stock answer to that question is the pursuit of scientific truth. But even a superficial glance at peer-reviewed medical literature today shows that only a small proportion of it involves “pure science”, that is, research with the scientific method at its core.
So if not for pure science, why do physicians publish? One reason is that those within the professoriate are expected to publish for academic advancement – alongside patient care and teaching, written scholarship is one of the three pillars of academia. Articles written by academic physicians may generally be pedantic and unimaginative, but the pressures within academia to produce them are unlikely to change, and we can expect such papers to continue to appear in great numbers.
But most physicians reside outside of academia and do not face pressure to publish. So why should they? Many reasons! To start with, writing an article for peer review requires a physician to review the existing literature, which helps keep him up to date with current medical practices. Secondly, the writing process forces a physician to analyze patient outcomes critically and report results in a disciplined way. This type of self-analysis opens up opportunities for improving patient outcomes.
Additionally, publishing papers is a crucial way for a physician to communicate his clinical abilities to the wider world, to both referring physicians and potential patients. The writing of articles is one of the best way of marketing a clinical practice, and this is a factor that motivates some of the articles in medical journals today. Academics tend to view this practice with cynicism, but provided a paper’s content is worthy, this type of “marketing” is preferable to promoting one’s practice through glossy brochures or highway billboards – especially in terms of reaching other physicians.
It is my belief that Cureus.com will make the process of publishing easier than ever – and not just easy but fun. Isn’t it time you got to work on your next paper?