RSNA 2018: How to get your research published in a major radiology journal

What does it take to get your research published in a major radiology journal? David A. Bluemke, MD, PhD, editor-in-chief of RSNA's Radiology journal, shared some advice with attendees Wednesday, Nov. 28, at RSNA 2018 in Chicago. He said it's important to write a great abstract and follow a few other critical steps when constructing your manuscript. 

Of the 3,000 original research submissions received every year, the Radiology editorial board accepts less than 10 percent, which Bluemke explained is due to the journal’s high commitment to quality and the mission of the journal.  

“We [at Radiology] want to publish cutting edge, impactful imaging research articles in radiology and medical imaging to improve human health,” Bluemke said.  

The first step, Bluemke said, is to pick an interesting and hopefully original topic. He emphasized that this is the “single most important factor” when you want to have a manuscript published. To pick a good topic, he recommended conducting extensive literature research to determine whether the topic has already been covered. He advised to not pick a topic that has been featured in ten or more publications.  

Next, with just a 250-word limit, Bleumke said it is important to write a really good abstract and an effective title.  

“I’d say that a poor abstract is the single most common mistake in most of our (rejected) manuscripts”, Bleumke said. 

Another common error made is that abstract conclusions frequently do not follow or match the results or purpose of the study. Before writing the manuscript, he advised consulting the following guidelines:  

  • STARD – Standards for Reporting Diagnostic Accuracy (diagnostic performance)  
  • CONSORT – Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (randomized control trials)  
  • PRISMA – Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis  
  • STROBE – Strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (cohort, case-control and cross-sectional studies) 

Additionally, titles should be written in a way that is easy to understand. The manuscript is more likely to be considered for review if the title lists the modality used, the disease and organ system studied and the problem being evaluated.  

Another step is to take advantage of colleagues other than co-authors and ask them to read the manuscript before submission. Bluemke stressed that having another set of eyes is a valuable, objective resource. 

“You have amazing people in your departments. They'll look at your material and help you refine it and determine if there's a good message,” he said. 

Finally, researchers must follow set instructions on how to submit a manuscript, because submission instructions are important to the journal's identity. Images are critical, tables should be self-explanatory and using too much hype should be avoided except when truly appropriate.