“It is none of their business that you have to learn to write.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Writing is hard work for many people. Writing for scholarly publication is a learned skill that can be particularly difficult. Most of us acquired basic writing skills as children, including sentence structure and appropriate grammar use. Later, we learned how little we knew about writing a paper suitable for publication, and although we understood that we needed help, we had few resources and perhaps minimal mentoring and encouragement. For many of us, there were few instructional manuals to aid our learning. Rather, we learned by writing, and sometimes failing, before finally succeeding in having a paper published. Thus, the need for this book, Anatomy of Writing for Publication for Nurses, first published in 2011 and now in its fourth edition.
Editor Cynthia Saver has once again compiled comprehensive chapters written by well-published authors and highly experienced editors. Saver herself is an accomplished nursing scholar with many decades of experience as a writer and editor. She has published both research reports and clinical papers, among others, and she has published widely in nursing journals and in the broader health professions literature. Importantly, she teaches writing on a regular basis; writing is a topic about which she knows much. Saver and the chapter authors are thus expert guides for the reader-writer through all aspects of the work required to write for publication.
As editor of the journal Nursing Research, I have the privilege of reading many well-written papers. It is exciting to receive these papers and a pleasure to assist in bringing them to publication. Unfortunately, I also receive papers with topics that are inappropriate for the journal, papers with good ideas that are poorly referenced, papers whose tables and figures are unnecessary, and papers that are not prepared in a journal-appropriate format. A review of the journal’s author guidelines or a query to the editor would have saved these authors time and the disappointment of rejection. At other times, our reviewers recommend rejecting papers where the components are incongruous—title, abstract, background, methods, results, and discussion inconsistently “tell the story.” I am particularly disappointed when I have to reject papers with significant overlap with previously published work or because the authors have not adhered to the standards of quality research, such as obtaining human subjects review or registering clinical trials.
All these issues are important to people who want to be successfully published authors, and Saver and her colleagues have addressed them in this latest edition of Anatomy. There are also chapters on how to search research and other literature and how to organize references for ease of citation. There is advice for authors whose primary language is not English. Importantly, given the nature of today’s connected world, there is a chapter on promoting your published work using social media and other venues. Most notably, there are chapters on writing research papers, clinical papers, book chapters, continuing education programs, and other scholarly products important for conveying knowledge. These is also a chapter on reviewing scholarly papers, which most of us can benefit from.
Above all else, learning to write requires that one write on your own. However, you do not have to learn to write alone. The previous editions of Anatomy have helped countless students as well as novice and experienced writers develop the skills they need to begin and continue writing. For those who want to improve their writing, this new edition will meet your needs.
–Rita Pickler, PhD, RN, FAAN
Editor, Nursing Research The FloAnn Sours Easton Professor of Child and Adolescent Health
Director, PhD & MS in Nursing Science Programs Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children & Youth
The Ohio State University College of Nursing Columbus, Ohio, USA