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Research | Getting Published

Getting Published

Getting published

If you are undertaking research you are obliged under key governance and ethical frameworks to disseminate your work. As well as cascading the results of your research, this is to enables others to critically review your work, and prevent duplication of effort and exposing research participants to repeated and unnecessary testing. If you’re just starting out then consider disseminating your work by writing a poster; however if you have undertaken a more substantial piece of research then publication in a journal may be more suitable.


Writing for publication

If you are planning on publishing your work in a journal ensure that you obtain the guidelines produced by that journal for authors planning to submit an article. These can usually be found either on the publisher’s website or in the journal itself. In general most research papers include the following sections:



The summary should briefly describe the objectives, method, results and conclusions of the study and should be able to be understood without the reader having to refer to the main paper.



The introduction should review the key previously reported studies and justify why the research is necessary.



The method should be described in sufficient detail to enable other researchers to repeat the work. Details of inclusion and exclusion criteria, randomisation, controls, blinding, data collection instruments and brief statisical considerations may be included.



For quantitative studies, the results section will normally comprise a mixture of tables or graphs and text.  Be consistent and accurate throughout and check all the figures in your tables add up. It’s a common mistake for percentages to add up to 99 or 101 instead of 100. Ensure table headings are clear and that each table is numbered and given a title.


For qualitative studies, the results section may take the form of quotations taken from interviews, for example. Think creatively about how to present these data, such as through the use of text boxes.



The discussion should interpret the results of the study. Any limitations presented by the design of the study should be described.



The conclusion section should follow logically from the discussion and summarise the significance of the results and the implications for practice. Further research required should be highlighted.




Referencing should follow the format required by the indvidual journal and not be excessive. Ensure that all the punctuation marks are correct.


The general rules of English grammar apply; be clear and precise – avoid the temptation to try to impress by being overly wordy. Avoid ambiguity, cliches and jargon and stick to short sentences and words (e.g. endeavour vs. try or commence vs. start or terminate vs. end).


If you are collaborating with other researchers, it is challenging to write a paper together as inevitably you will have different writing styles. It may be best to agree on the structure of the paper as a team, and then nominate one or two people (usually the lead researchers) to write the first draft. This and subsequent drafts will be circulated amongst the research team for comment before submission of the final manuscript.


In general, after submission, the editor will decide whether you article is suitable for the journal. If you are successful your paper will normally be subject to peer review by referees in your field. In addition it will be subject to technical editing that corrects any typographical errors and grammatical mistakes and improves the overall readability of the paper. It’s common to fail but don’t give up, try another journal remembering to modify your style to meet their requirements and incorporate any comments they may have given you.


Preparing a poster

Disseminating your research via a poster presentation is less time consuming than preparing a paper for a journal and may be less daunting than giving an oral presentation at a conference. Presenting a poster means that you will have the opportunity to interact with conference attendees, sharing ideas and getting feedback.


The structure of your poster will normally be the same as that for papers described above, but will not include a summary; check with the conference organisers for the exact template. Establish the size and shape (i.e. portait vs. landscape) of your poster and how it will be mounted.


With respect to style and design, successful posters use a mixture of text, tables and graphs, and occassionally pictures. There are some examples presented at recent UKMI conferences attached below. Most modern posters are now comprised of large laminated single piece of card; your Trust’s graphic design department or equivalent should be able to assist you.


Ensure that you present the information in a logical and easy-to-follow, uncluttered format. Concentrate on the key message you are trying to convey and don’t include too much text; use bullet points where possible. As for papers, avoid jargon, ambiguity and abbreviations. The font size should enable the poster to be read from a distance of 1.5 metres.


Before the conference prepare for the questions that you may be asked and produce handouts for delegates to take away. Go armed with velcro and drawing pins and make sure that you allocate enough time to put up your poster.


Ruth McGuire has written an excellent checklist of the things to remember in preparing and presenting a successful poster – refer to the Further Reading below.


Further reading

Mehta AC. Writing papers for publication. Pharmaceutical Journal 1990;244:58-60.


Leach RH. Preparing a paper for publication. Pharmacy Management 2004;20(4):2-4.


McGuire R. How to present a poster. Pharmaceutical Journal 2003;270:650-652.


Powerpoint File  Example Poster 1 
Powerpoint File  Example Poster 2 
Powerpoint File  Example Poster 3