From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, March 11, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing staff development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of staff development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Publishing tips for nursing staff development professionals

Publishing is rapidly becoming an expectation for those who are proficient nursing professional development (NPD) specialists. Here are some tips for those pursuing the publication dream.
Write about a topic with which you are VERY familiar and have a passionate interest in. Writing is a time-consuming process that almost always involves editing, rewriting, and still more rewriting, so be sure you are passionate about the topic. For example, did you plan and initiate an education endeavor that had a positive impact on organizational effectiveness such as decreasing adverse occurrences or increasing retention? Did you participate in a research project that linked positive patient outcomes to education? These are good examples of topics that will generate interest among clinicians and educators alike.

Select a journal(s) that fits your topic. Your topic, in large part, dictates which journal(s) is most appropriate for submitting your article. For example, an article about an innovative education program is a topic of interest to readers of journals such as the Journal for Nurses in Staff Development and the Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing.

Obtain a copy of the guidelines for authors from the journal in which you are interested in publishing. Guidelines are nearly always available on the journal's website or may be found in the journals themselves. Read all guidelines carefully and follow them meticulously. You must adhere to the guidelines in order to have an article published. If you have questions about the guidelines, don't hesitate to contact the journal for clarification. Most journals' websites contain contact information.

Weigh the pros and cons of coauthorship. Coauthoring has advantages and pitfalls. First, coauthors should have been involved in the project you are writing about. They should also be part of the work of writing and rewriting the article. I know some authors who have added a colleague's name to the list of authors simply because that colleague is a well-known author, but who did little or none of the writing or who had only minimal participation in the project they wrote about. This can lead to resentment. In my experience, the most successful writing partnerships are those in which all parties share the workload.

Identical articles cannot be published in different journals. Some fledgling writers have asked me if they can submit a manuscript that is identical to one that has been published to other journals. The answer is no. The copyright of your published article belongs to the journal in which it was published. If you submit the identical article to another journal you are violating copyright mandates.

You can, however, write another article based on the same topic and submit it to other journals. For example, although the research process and study results are the same, you could write it up as a different article.

Write a draft of the article and ask a colleague to review it. Ideally, this colleague has publication experience and should NOT be familiar with or involved in the project you are writing about. This colleague will review the article from the reader's point of view. Remember, most, if not all, readers will not be familiar with your project. Your colleague should point out what you need to clarify, expand, and/or go into greater detail.

Read articles in the journals you are hoping to publish in. This will help you get a feeling for the style of the articles that have been successfully published.

Don't be offended if and when you are asked to rewrite your article. All published authors have to do some rewriting and editing based on directives from reviewers and/or editors. Rewrites are requested to improve the article and its usefulness to readers, not to insult you.

Finally, don't be discouraged. Even if your first submission is rejected, keep trying. The effort is well worth it when you see your article in print.

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