Publish and Perish

Research projects, from the planning, completion, presentation to eventual publication in a reputable medical journal are often a requirement for graduation, acceptance, promotion and tenure, and as such are the goals of many students, educators and workers in the healthcare educational industrial complex.

Ideally it is a process that benefits everyone involved, from the aspiring student with a goal of getting into medical school or a highly rated residency of choice, to the senior author who is supervising the process (expected to, at least), before adding their name to the author list which helps their road to publication and before adding the article to their CV.

Unfortunately, life is not always ideal and the junior is not sufficiently funded, supported, advised or supervised, and the project fails or falls below the publisher’s standards of publication.

The current number of the ANZ Journal of Surgery from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (Volume 88, Numbers 1/2, January/February 2018) has four articles discussing the obstacles to publication for even those completed projects presented at a major surgical conference.

The first[1]is an editorial discussing these general problems and asks whether it should be mandatory for every surgical trainee to publish.

Comments on the low publication rate of successfully presented papers and successful publication may take two to three years, suggesting there is a general lack of diversity in academic research and bias amongst reviewers, publishers and libraries that slows the process to publication.

The second[2]is another editorial and discusses the problems associated with “Predatory Journals” in the open access internet system of journals designed to provide freer access and opportunities for underfunded investigators, mainly in Asian and African institutions. The system offers a quicker path to publication, but the ‘Predatory’ variety may ask for fees to help funding the process and publication costs. Unfortunately, this quicker process can be associated with a weaker quicker review process and reports of investigators and authors finding their work published without their full knowledge or agreement.

The third[3]is an example of these problems and the need for a ‘Publisher’s Note’ to explain how it had been published elsewhere without the author’s consent.

Some academics claim to have been tricked into publishing in this system.

The fourth [4]discusses the predictive factors for publication of abstracts.

[5]There is an interesting article from the New York Times[6]discussing the general problems and whether academics are willing participants in these so called “Predatory Journals.”

The old adage “Publish or perish” perhaps should be changed to “Publish wisely, carefully and with great patience.”


[1]Watters D A. Surviving rejections, revisions and re-submissions. ANZ J. Surg. 2018: 88: 6-7.

2Harris J P. Hazards of predatory publication. ANZ J. Surg.2018 ; 88 : 9.

3Borel F, Ouaissi M, Merdrignac A et al.Pancreatico-jejunostomy decreases post-operative pancreatic fistula incidence and severity after central pancreatectomy. ANZ J. Surg.2018; 88: 77-81.

4 Khajehnoori M, Stupart D, Watters D. Publication rates of General Surgery abstracts presented at the Annual Scientific Congress. ANZ J. Surg. 2018; 88: 16-19.



-Anthony Dwyer, M.D.

(The opinions stated in this blog are those of the author Dr. Anthony Dwyer and not necessarily those of the American College of Spine Surgery).



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