TH-D-16A-01: Medical Physics Workshop: Editorial Vision and Guidance On Writing and Reviewing Papers



On January 1, 2014, editorial leadership of Medical Physics passed from esteemed long-time Editor Bill Hendee to a collective editorial group composed of the three presenters listed above. In this presentation, we would like to outline our vision for the future of Medical Physics and review recent work-in-progress initiatives to implement this vision. Finally, we will close with guidance to authors on how to write a good Medical Physics paper.

Vision for Medical Physics and current initiatives: Jeff Williamson, Editor-in-Chief

We cannot improve on Dr. Hendee's succinct vision statement “to continue the Journal's tradition of publishing the very best science that propels our discipline forward and improves our contribution to patient care.” More concretely, the Journal should be s the preeminent forum for electronic exchange of cutting edge medical physics science. We seek to identify the best contributions in (a) high impact clinical physics innovations; (b) clinical translation and validation of basic science innovations; or (c) cutting edge basic science developments with potential for patient care improvements. Among the challenges and opportunities we face are: are electronic-only and open access publishing; trends towards more interactive, social-media based scientific communities; and diversification of the medical physics research, authorship, and readership domains, including clinical applications quite foreign to core ABR clinical competencies. To address these issues over the next 3 years, we have reduced the size of our Editorial Board and focused its efforts on improving the Journal's impact through 4 working groups (WGs):

  • 1.WG-1: Review process quality and selectivity
    • a.Creation of 120 member Board of Associate Editors to improve review uniformity by placing Ms. management in fewer hands
    • b.New reviewer guidelines and templates
    • c.Answer: “what is the scope of medical physics research?”
    • d.Recursive taxonomy for tagging review expertise and article contents
  • 2.WG-2 Improving reader experience
    • a.Redesigning to host interactive features and gateway to electronic issue archive
    • b.Experimentation with interactive features beginning with “Point/Counterpoint”
  • 3.Data mining and Journal quality evaluation
    • a.Find out who are audiences are
    • b.Identify characteristics of high impact articles
    • c.Measure effectiveness of innovations
  • 4.Outreach to related communities
    • a.Special issues presenting high-impact work in designated subcommunities
    • b.Addressing the needs of new research constituencies: engineers, biophysicists, clinicians

Guidelines and templates for reviewers and associate editors: Shiva Das, Therapy Physics Editor

We will discuss the Med. Phys. review process and a new initiative to create review templates that attempts to address current shortcomings. Template design is informed by the literature on of the review process effectiveness and practices of other journals. Its goals are to provide authors more constructive criticism to improve the manuscript; quantifying perceived importance and potential impact; and providing structured sections that prompt the reviewer to addresses important technical and editorial elements. While the template is recommended to be used, reviewers could alternatively enter their comments in the older free-form style. The expectations of the template are that it will enable consistently thorough, high quality reviews that accurately separate acceptable vs. substandard submissions but continue our tradition of helping authors to enhance papers with high potential. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce variability and subjectivity in the peer-review process, in turn leading to articles with higher research and clinical impact. We will also discuss interesting perspectives from several journals on aspects of the peer-review process such as public input via comments, influence of author-suggested reviewers, and bias in reviewer selection.

Writing good scientific papers and responding to critiques: Mitch Goodsitt, Imaging Physics Editor

The essential components of the abstract, introduction, methods, discussion and conclusion sections, as well as the desired writing style and style of the figures and tables will be reviewed. Publishable Medical Physics Ms. must include a clear and concise statement of the novelty and clinical and/or scientific importance of their work. Examples of novelty include: new technical solution to an important clinical problem; new generalizable knowledge; or first demonstration that an existing engineering solution solves a clinical problem. Authors must also include: sufficient background information and rationale; enough detail that the work can be reproduced by others; sufficient statistical analysis to refute or validate their hypothesis, how it compares to; is distinct from, and improves upon others' work; and the limitations of their study. When the authors receive critiques from the referees and associate editor, the authors should provide a detailed point-bypoint response to each comment. We now ask that the authors' rebuttal include the text of the original criticism, the authors' response, and the modified text along with the line numbers in the revised article. We also ask that the new text be highlighted in a different font color in the revised submission. These changes and others will be discussed. Their purpose is to facilitate the review process.