(Last Updated On: March 25, 2020)

What makes an article publishable?

Editorial, November 2019 Editorial

During the last International Society of Dermatology meeting at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) conference in Madrid, Spain, Dr.Rokea el-Azhary , chief editor of the International Journal of Dermatology (IJD) presented her choices for the best articles published in the IJD from 2018-2019. Her top choice was the article “Dermoscopy in vitiligo: diagnosis and beyond”, written by my good friends Dr Abhijeet Kumar Jha, Sidharth Sonthaliaand few other colleagues.The article was a simple retrospective review of 60 patients with vitiligo in India in which a clinical examination with dermoscopy was performed. The variableswere easily identifiable and included perifollicular/perilesional changes, altered pigmentary network and specific features such as starburst, comet tail, leucotrichia, etc. The review correlated dermoscopy features to prognosis, whether associated with a more progressive course or stable with potential for repigmentation, which made the article relevant. The other articles and authors she commended also included the ff:

1. Bullous pemphigoid induced by dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors. Eight cases with clinical and immunological characterization. (Garcia-Diez I, Ivars-Lleo M, Lopez, Aventin D, et al. Int J Dermatolo. 2018 Jul;57(7): 810-816).
2. Ertapenem-a potent treatment for clinical and quality of life improvement in patients with hidradenitis suppurativa (Braunberger TL, Nartker NT, Nicholson CL, et al. Int J Dermatol. 2018 Sep; 57 (9): 1088-1093.
3. Topical 5-FU in dermatologic disease (Prince GT et al, Cameron NT, Fathy R, Alkousakis T. Int J Dermatol. 2018 Oct; 57(10): 1259-1264.
These articles have been selected because they were simple, innovative and relevant. I personally advise dermatologists who are particularly interested in research and publications to read these articles. As chief editor of the JPDS, the following are just few tips on choosing articles/research topics to write about and submit for publication.
1. Case reports, for example should be able to convey a new and relevant message. Ideally the reports should be short and focused. Publishable articles usually discuss rare or unusual clinical conditions, a previously unreported or unrecognized disease, unusual side effects to therapy or response to treatment and unique use of imaging modalities or diagnostic tests to assist in making a diagnosis. High quality images of the clinical, dermoscopy and photomicrographs should always be provided.
2. Observational studies and clinical trials on the other hand should not only have practical applications, but should be useful and make a difference for health and disease outcomes. Dr John P. Ioannidis in his essay titled “Why most clinical research is not useful” proposed to ask the following questions to highlight the features of useful clinical research. Is there a big problem that is big or important enough to fix? Has prior evidence been systematically assessed so as to come up with new studies? Is the proposed study large and long enough to be sufficiently informative? Does the research reflect real life? Does the research reflect top patient priorities? Are the methods, data, analysis transparent and verifiable? Factors driving the production and publication of non usefulclinical research are largely identifiable but are modifiable. 1
In this November issue of the JPDS, I and the editorial staff tried our best to include case reports and research that are simple, innovative and relevant. For the novice writer or even the experienced researcher, streamlining our approach and reshaping our mindset could easily produce more relevant and useful publications in the future.

Johannes F. Dayrit, MD, FPDS
Journal of the Philippine Dermatological Society

1. Ioannidis JPA (2016) Why Most Clinical Research Is Not Useful. PLoS Med 13 (6): e1002049. https://doi.org/10.1271/journal.pmed.1002049