WRITING FOR PUBLICATION: A Professional Responsibility


One of the hallmarks of a profession is the use of formalized publications to share information with colleagues and interested sectors of the public. To aid certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) in achieving that professional responsibility, Editorial Board members of the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery have conducted workshops on writing for publication at the 1979 and 1987 annual conventions of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. A similar workshop will again be presented in 1995 at the 40th annual meeting in Dallas; and a cordial invitation is extended to all prospective CNM authors to participate.

Countless CNMs have contributed to the professional literature over the years. Some are seasoned researchers and educators who have multiple publications to their credit. The Journal of Nurse-Midwifery's status as a refereed journal and its inclusion in Index Medicus and other cumulative indexes has made JNM an excellent forum for the scholarly works of these authors. In addition, CNMs involved in clinical practice are using the Journal increasingly to document their outcomes and to communicate their data to an ever-expanding audience.

The Journal of Nurse-Midwifery has also become deeply committed to promoting increased authorship endeavors by novice writers. To facilitate the process, the Journal has created an array of writing opportunities to accommodate more informal exchanges as well as the most scholarly research studies.

Standing columns have been established in the Journal to exchange views and share information on clinical practice, education, research, international issues, professional affairs, and nurse-midwifery prototypes of education and clinical practice while Letters to the Editor and Issues and Opinions welcome more controversial points of view. In addition, assistant editors in all regions regularly receive books and audio/visual materials to be reviewed and actively seek midwives to prepare media reviews for publication. Specific instructions for each of these sections of the Journal as well as a condensed version of JNM's Publication Guidelines for authors are printed in the January/February, May/June, and September/October issues each year. In addition, a complete set of the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals,” which JNM adopted in 1991, is published in the January/February 1992 issue.

Because the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery is a refereed journal, every manuscript submitted for consideration as a full-length article is reviewed by members of the Peer Review Panel and the Editorial Board. When appropriate, manuscripts may also be reviewed by research consultants. The identity of authors is always withheld from reviewers at this stage.

As a result of the Journal's extensive review process, recommendations for improving the manuscript are usually made. In some instances, the suggestions are minor; but more often than not submitted manuscripts require extensive revision by the author. Prospective authors should regard any suggestions offered as a constructive critique that is designed to help them to better communicate their work to the reader. In this way, manuscripts that might otherwise be rejected often can be improved and eventually published.

Submissions to the standing columns of the Journal usually do not go through the peer review process as described above. In these instances, the authors generally work directly with one of the associate editors in readying their work for publication.

In recognition of the value of writing for publication and of the educational effort involved, the Continuing Education Committee of the American College of Nurse-Midwives grants one CEU (10 contact hours) to a CNM who is identified as a primary author on a publication of a nurse-midwifery related clinical topic in a refereed journal.

It should be stressed also that students as well as veteran CNMs are encouraged to submit their writing for publication in the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery. Student research and papers often meet standards for publication and may give student authors an impetus toward further clinical research efforts once they become CNMs.

Having discovered the pride and satisfaction that comes from seeing their articles in print, CNMs may be encouraged to build on their initial efforts and develop more in-depth studies that will provide a sounder basis for practice and greater fulfillment in their professional lives. The power of the written word has the potential for enhancing our profession publicly and privately.