PRISMA guidelines

The November meeting of the UHL Writing Club looked at reporting guidelines, specifically the PRISMA guidelines for reporting a systematic review.   Keith Nockels, one of the UHL Clinical Librarian team, was the presenter.   Keith has presented before about reporting guidelines, and has increasing experience of involvement in systematic reviews as the literature searcher.

We looked at what reporting guidelines are, and at the Equator Network Library, which is a library of reporting guidelines and can be used to identify the ones you need to use, and provide details and links to the guidelines themselves.

We then looked at PRISMA, and looked at a published systematic review to see how it measured up.

One of the participants (thank you!) drew our attention to the MOOSE reporting guidelines for reporting synthesis of case control, cohort or cross sectional studies.  PRISMA is really for reporting a synthesis of RCTs or similar studies.

Here are the slides: UHL Writing Club Reporting guidelines prisma.


Writing up a systematic review?

Come to November’s Writing Club, where Keith Nockels, Clinical Librarian, will talk about the PRISMA reporting guidelines.    These tell you what to write about and what to include.   Many journals insist you use PRISMA when writing up your review but even if you are not required to do so, using it will make your review more useful to those who read and use it, and ensure you don’t miss anything out.     PRISMA can also help you plan a review.

If you are planning or doing a systematic review, or just want to find out more, please come along.

Keith presented in November 2016 about reporting guidelines generally, has been (and is) involved in several systematic review projects.

When: Thursday 16th November 2017, 1-2 pm.

Where: Odames Meeting Room, Odames Library, Victoria Building, LRI.

Book your (free) placeemail us or ring (0116 258) 5558.

Where to publish your article?

Two publishers (at least) have their own tools to help you choose a journal to submit to.

Springer Nature’s Journal Suggester needs article title and some text, and a subject category.  You can search for journals with a particular impact factor, minimum acceptance rate and time to first decision.   You will get a list of suggested Springer, Nature or BioMed Central titles to consider.

I made up a title (about comprehensive geriatric assessment and the cardiac care unit) and very short abstract.

Selecting Medicine and Public Health as the subject, I got a list with geriatrics titles at numbers 1, 2, 7 and 10.   The remaining 6 titles did not look relevant, and none of the titles were cardiology journals.

Elsevier’s Journal Finder, choosing Life and health sciences, gave me a list with two geriatrics titles in it.   Most suggestions were critical care, with two orthopaedics.  Again none were cardiology.

But what if you don’t know which publisher you prefer?

JANE, the Journal/Author Name Estimator, from Erasmus Medical Center’s Biosemantics Group in Rotterdam, compares your text with articles in Medline (more about how it works).

My made up very short abstract worked better than the title, the list of suggestions including geriatrics titles, but only at numbers 1 and 8.   The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was at 3, which of course would not accept a submission.

I then repeated my test with a published abstract (CONFLICT OF INTEREST ALERT – I get an acknowledgement in this paper!).   Springer’s top 3 were all geriatrics, as was number 10.  Four of Elsevier’s top five suggestions were geriatrics, although number 3 was forensic medicine.   JANE had the title that published this paper at number 1, but the abstract was presumably an exact match.    The second on the list was a generalist title, but a possibility.   The next geriatrics title was below the top 10.

JANE can also suggest authors and this seemed to find some people I’d associate with CGA, but not others.

So how useful are these tools?

Two of them assume you have chosen the publisher you need.

JANE might work better with longer texts.   It would be interesting to test it against actual articles that people want to submit for publication, and compare results with the author’s own thoughts about where they want to publish.

JANE cannot take your thoughts into account.  Who do I want to read my made up article?   Maybe not people involved in care of older people, but people working in cardiac care.   But if not many cardiology journals have published on CGA, would JANE suggest any?

How do you decide where to publish?   Have you used JANE or a publisher tool?

The Library can help you identify relevant journals to consider, and then can find instructions to authors.   Contact us if we can help.

Presenting your research to the media

This is the theme of our September meeting, when we welcome Rachael Dowling, the Trust’s Research Communications Manager.

  • What do journalists look for in a research story?
  • How can you build your own research story for the media?
  • Where does social media fit into this picture?

If you have research or other work that you want to talk to the media about, do come along.

Book your free place by phoning the Odames Library on 5558 / 0116 258 5558, or by emailing the Odames Library.

When: Tuesday 12th September

Time: 1 – 2 pm

Place: Odames Meeting Room, Odames Library (Victoria, LRI).

Selecting the journal to submit your paper

Once you’ve done all the hard work, where do you submit your paper? Actually, let’s rewind that. It helps if you plan where you want to submit before putting pen to paper. That’ll help you focus on who your audience is, and means you can work to the guidance from the journal’s instructions to authors. Your research needs an audience if it’s going to be read, and hopefully make in difference in your area of interest.

You can “sound out” editors with a brief synopsis of your work, or you can check thoroughly through the instructions to authors and be satisfied that you’re meeting the criteria of your chosen journal. Remember, the journal’s editorial board want to publish high quality research that’s going to be of interest to their readers, so they are trying to help you get your work into print, rather than being the ferocious gatekeepers determined to keep you out.

Have a browse through the recently published articles in the journal, see if you think your work could sit alongside the kinds of papers they already have published.

Check that the journal is a well respected publication in its field of interest, take a look at the people on the editorial board and the names of authors publishing. Use the Think, Check, Submit website’s checklist to be sure the journal is one you want your work to appear within.

Finally, make sure your work addresses all of the criteria that the journal is looking for, if they say they don’t publish work under or over a certain word count, then make sure you’re within their limits. Following their guidance, you can get your paper into print!



Increasing the Impact of your Research

UHL Writing Club were pleased to host Laurian Williamson (Open Access and Research Data Manager, University of Leicester) who delivered an interesting presentation on measuring the impact of research. 

Key points included:

  •  Funders of research want demonstrable impact, but this can be open to interpretation. Traditional citations/ impact factors are one measure of impact, but Altmetrics may be used to complement this. Making things open is a big drive now from all funders and publishers to make evidence available to all.
  • Impact can also be important for networking, building credibility and employability.
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF) which assesses academic institutions expects all publications to be Open Access. Open Access does not mean ‘no peer-review’.
  • Some funders insist on Open Research e.g. The Wellcome Trust
  • The broader perspective is also important, we have a responsibility to archive and preserve information for future scholars.
  • If doing citation analysis, use two or more tools to increase reliability e.g. Web of Science/ Scopus/ Google Scholar
  • The Altmetric doughnut is a downloadable bookmarklet (avoid Internet Explorer) that calculates citations of a doi (Digital Object identifier) from over 8000 sources, including grey literature, policy documents, social media, and public health. Very much a live picture of recent awareness online, and about who is discussing my research. Very much a live picture of recent awareness. Need more evidence for the usefulness of altmetrics. Not to be discounted yet.
  • University of Leicester have bought the enhanced version of altmetrics to have access to the institutional dashboard so they can see everything.
  • Sign up for a free ORCID id, this helps avoid confusion with authors of similar names. Many publishers insist on you having one when submitting.
  • BASE – is a search engine for ‘author approved manuscripts’ that are increasingly deposited in Institutional Repositories and are Open Access Bielefeld Academic Search Engine
  • OA articles downloaded 89% more.


Research data

  • Funders and publishers are demanding transparency, replication and reuse of research. Can others do something interesting with your data.
  • Think beyond numbers on a spreadsheet. Some data may still be handwritten notes. Field notes and diaries that may need to be digitised. Not always what we traditionally think of as data.
  • Peer reviewers may ask to see published data alongside a submitted paper.
  • Supplementary material is no longer enough, need to see the data behind the findings.
  • Sensitive data should not be shared, but the default should be to make it open where possible. The fact that anonymisation takes time and effort is not a good enough reason to keep data closed.
  • Your research output has to have a persistent identifiers, a DOI, then it can be found and used. The date should also have metadata to enable other people to make sense of it.
  • Data Repositories are often available within institutions, or there may be a disciple specific repository e.g. Genetics. Figshare and Zenodo are alternatives.
  • Data will be the next big thing for open. RCUK expect researchers to do everything possible to make their data available if funded.
  • Horizon 2020 is an EU funder who support open access and say that data is as important as publications for societal benefit.
  • Collaboration of data from studies during the Zika epidemic had a huge benefit for society.

Writing Club for May: Measuring the impact of your research

We welcome Laurian Williamson, Open Access and Research Data Manager at the University of Leicester.   Laurian will speak about measuring and increasing the impact of your research outputs, whether publications or research data.

How can you promote your work effectively?    How can you measure current reach and impact?    How can you increase that impact?

Laurian will talk about:

  • Citations, citation counts and citation indexes
  • Journal metrics and author metrics
  • Altmetrics
  • New metrics, for research data metrics

May’s Writing Club will be on Tuesday 16th May, from 1 pm to 2 pm, in the Odames Meeting Room, Odames Library, Victoria Building, LRI.

All UHL staff welcome.   To book a free place, please ring the Clinical Librarians on 5558 or email