New technologies, new methods

New technologies have made it easier for medical journals and reports to be published and accessed by doctors from all over the world. In addition, new scientific discoveries and research are also reported in these publications to keep medical officers updated about medicine.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean doctors are getting all the information they need from these journals and reports. There is still a lack of publications regarding other things, including the medical experiences of doctors.

The reason is that most paywalled and subscription-based journals don’t bother publishing case reports – due to how rarely they get cited. The digitisation of peer-reviewed publishing is hoping to make a different.

Thirty years ago, this was not going to be possible. But today – with the advancement in technology – there’s more control, and the fact that most case report journals are not behind a paywall makes it possible for doctors to have their medical experiences or case reports published.

A medical library filled with case reports

Around the world on a daily basis, doctors get to consult different types of patients. More often than not, they get to experience unique situations and cases where they are not so sure on how to deal with it.

It is moments like these that doctors wished they had access to similar cases to refer to. Gerald Grant, chief of paediatric neurosurgery at Stanford University Medical Centre, is in the same boat.

He’s always searching for similar cases just so that he can give his patients the best treatment possible. For now, he has found a way through an upstart publishing platform modelled, the Cureus Journal of Medical Science, to help him.

The Cureus Journal of Medical Science is the brainchild of John Adler, Grant’s colleague at Stanford, who is a fellow neurosurgeon. With Cureus, Adler hopes to build the largest library of medical case studies by publishing tens of millions of articles a year.

According to Adler, “Cureus is the first and only peer-reviewed publication with step-by-step article templates for authors.” Case studies are published as quickly as in weeks rather than months. This process allows doctors to have access to millions of medical lessons.

Speaking on how Cureus can help the practice of medicine, Adlers said, “most case reports are undocumented beyond just two surgeons talking over a scrub sink. Not enough of those stories get told.”

Cureus allows users to get involved in commenting on the article, rating the quality of the content and the paper’s clinical significance. With all these tools, Cureus has the potential to be a prediction engine for medical officers everywhere.

What experts are saying…

Not everyone is satisfied with how things are progressing, however. Some experts opine that this publishing model is in the risk of being exploited by “predatory” publishers and companies – who take up the payment and the job; but end up not following through on their promises.

Katherine Akers, a biomedical research specialist at Wayne State University and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Medical Library Association, commented how about half of the publishers of medical case report journals are in the same situation.

Reviewing Cureus, Akers expressed that “for the most part, this one actually looks okay.” She added that Cureus is fee-free and is also indexed in PubMed, which is a database that is used by most biomedical researchers in the hope of finding relevant papers related to their situations.

Nonetheless, Akers is concerned with the fast reviewing time that Cureus takes to approve the cases reports. Usually, it takes about three hours for most reputable biomedical journals to review an article.

A platform for researchers to share studies and findings

Over in the United Kingdom, BMC Medicine is the first clinical research journal to accept Registered Reports. This step has allowed researchers to be more proactive in improving the transparency and reproducibility in their respective scientific fields.

Registered Reports works on a platform that is all about making it simpler for high-quality research to be published. The emphasis from research results is shifted to the scientific questions and strength of the study design.

With the support of the Centre for Open Science (COS), Registered Reports allows authors to freely submit their rationale and methods for peer-review. Authors can do all this before any actual experiments have been conducted.

Studies that have been completed in accordance with the pre-registered methodology and that have passed peer-review are accepted by Registered Reports. There will be a second round of peer-review and after that, the article will be published on its platform.

So far, BMC has already launched Registered Reports in the BMC Ecology journal. After BMC Biology and BMC Medicine, this is the third BMC journal to accept this type of submission.

The start of a healthy trend on clinical trials

Experts are hoping that the launch of Registered Reports will “start a trend of more accurate reporting on clinical trials.” The same experts claim that this will change the “publish or perish” mentality when it comes to the reliability of clinical trials.

However, not everyone thinks so positively of Registered Reports. Some scientists are little unsure about the process of Registered Reports. Among their list of concerns, they think that a primary stage peer reviewer could steal the research idea that is published on this platform.

Despite the criticism, there are those, who have been very welcoming towards both Cureus and Registered Reports. According to them, these two publishing models are assisting the clinical research field move forward in a more comprehensive transparency manner. MIMS

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