TH-C-213-02: Improving Manuscript Quality Via Structured Reviews, Enhanced Scientific Category Taxonomy, and Outreach



On March 3, 2015, we were saddened to report the loss of our beloved and esteemed Journal Manager, Penny Slattery, after a long battle with colorectal cancer. This workshop is dedicated to her memory and to celebrate her nearly 20 year tenure as the public face of Medical Physics under three different editors. 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 status of current initiatives: Jeff Williamson, Editor-in-Chief

The broad vision of Medical Physics is “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 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: electronic-only and open access publishing; competition from new radiological science journals; 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 different aspects of improving Journal impact and quality, we have formed 4 working groups of the Editorial Board. The status of these various activities will be updated.

  • 1.Review process quality and selectivity (Working Group 1)
    • a.Fully 75% of 2014 submissions were managed by our 146 appointed Associate Editors
    • b.New reviewer guidelines and templates
    • c.Selectivity increased
    • d.Innovations in review process and effectiveness
  • 2.Improving reader experience (WG 2)
    • a.Redesigned portal
    • b.Experimentation with interactive features beginning with “Point/Counterpoint”
    • c.Recruitment of imaging and therapy review article editors.
  • 3.Data mining and Journal quality evaluation (WG 3)
    • a.Creating a database consisting of all peer review data, article metadata, and citation/download data for articles published from 2008–2013 has been developed
    • b.Preliminary data reported here
  • 4.Outreach to related communities (WG 4)
    • a.Special CT issue based on Salt Lake City 2014 meeting published in May 2015
    • b.Charged particle therapy issue in preparation

Improving manuscript quality via structured reviews, enhanced scientific category taxonomy, and outreach: Shiva Das, Therapy Physics Editor

Medical Physics is committed to continuous quality improvement with a view to enhancing the potential impact of accepted manuscripts. In order to do so, Medical Physics must have access to more articles from important/emerging areas and be able to select high quality contributions consistently via discerning reviews. Improving the quality of reviews is crucial to selecting high quality manuscripts and also to improving manuscript impact via feedback in the review process. With this in mind, Medical Physics is in the process of: (a) fostering outreach to important areas that are currently underrepresented in Medical Physics; (b) implementing a structured template review form; and (c) implementing comprehensive scientific category taxonomy to identify associate editors and reviewers who are best suited to an article. Outreach efforts have begun to various scientific areas, e.g., particle therapy. Strategies to increase submissions from these areas will be discussed. A review template was implemented in late 2014 on a limited test basis. Based on reviewer feedback, the template was restructured to capture essential review elements in a more concise form. The restructured template is currently undergoing testing before full release. The new scientific category taxonomy is in the process of being deployed to reviewers and associate editors. Salient aspects of the structured review template and scientific category taxonomy will be discussed in this talk.

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 manuscripts must include clear and concise statements of the novelty and clinical and/or scientific importance of the authors’ 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 hypotheses; a description of how the present work compares to, is distinct from, and improves upon others’ work; and a section devoted to the limitations of the study. Writing should be polished. Poor wording, grammar and composition frustrate the review process. Our journal does not have copyeditors for revising manuscripts. When authors receive critiques from the referees and associate editor, the authors should provide a detailed point-by-point response to each comment. We now ask that the authors’ rebuttal include the text of the original criticism, the authors’ response, and a pasted copy of 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.