Practical Authorship: What to write instead of a Case Report

Quill_penI’ve spent quite a while trying to convince you that you really ought not to be writing a case report.  But you’re in a bind.  Firstly, you’ve got in mind a case report – or you’re under pressure to write a case report with (for) someone.  And also, you’ve got to get published.  So, what are you going to write instead?

Firstly, as I’ve written before, there are models for getting case reports published, and BMJ case reports is a good one. If you’ve done the work, have written a case report, and want to get it published as it is, then go for it.  There is nothing wrong with this.  You’ll have added to the sum of human knowledge, and you’ll have something to put in the “publications” section of your CV.

If you want to get it into a journal, and obviously I’m writing for the ADC suite here, then you could try it as it stands. Note, however, that you’ll need to have written something that is of genuine reader interest – which is to say that the readers will find something they can take back to their own practice from it.

However, if you wanted to try something different, here are some alternatives.

My suggestion is to start from this thought:  What was it that I got from this clinical encounter?  There must be something that has led you to think that what you’ve learned should be shared.  Here are some possibilities.

I saw a rash, or an X-ray, or an appearance that nobody has seen before“.  Or, “I saw something which people know about, but this is a really important and clear example that reminds us about this condition“.  This falls, usually, into a case report type territory – but with images we’ve got a place for those; Mark Tighe runs the Images in Paediatrics submission in the blue ADC.  There are good examples here and here.

A variation on this would be “I saw a really interesting clinical situation which nicely demonstrated how to make this diagnosis.”  Again, this might one for Mark Tighe, for Education and Practice, and the Epilogue section.  Here you describe the clinical scenario and challenge the reader to chose from a list of diagnoses.  There are examples here and here.

I saw a good example of a situation which made me think about the differential”  You could rework your case report into a Problem Solving in Clinical Practice, about which Greg Skinner has written here. There are some important things to consider if you’re doing this, though.   Note that here, the journey is as important as – or perhaps more important than – the destination.  That is to say that your paper should be at least 2/3 about how you got to your diagnosis.

I asked an interesting clinical question, and thought the answer was of interest.”  If critical appraisal of the literature is your thing, you could write an Archimedes paper.  Have a read of this blog post to find some top tips.  An alternative is to write a Picket paper – but note that these can be tricky, and we’d like to be sure that you’re doing it right before you put lots of work in, so please get in touch first.

So, lots of choices.  No need to write a boring old case report.  If in doubt, get in touch – we’d be very happy to lend you a hand.  In fact, you might be surprised at how helpful we can be.

The next few blog posts from me are going to have some thoughts about how you actually write.


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