Staying Ahead of the Curve in Medical Publishing

Nelson M. Oyesiku
Brandon J. Fiedor, MA
Brandon J. Fiedor, MA

Medical Publications

Publishing is a competitive business. Each year, journals jostle for the highest quality manuscripts from across the specialty— manuscripts that will challenge accepted dogma, drive innovation in patient care, and advance our understanding of disease and treatment through scientific advances.

Traditionally, our journal’s stiffest competition comes from three sectors: General medicine journals, publications in the broad neurosurgical space, and journals serving the various subspecialties within neurosurgery. The general medicine journals promise wide exposure with their large readerships, brand recognition, and focus on content with broad, cross-disciplinary relevance. NEUROSURGERY® Publications (consisting of Neurosurgery, Operative Neurosurgery, and Clinical Neurosurgery) and its peers target the latest advances and trends from across the neurosurgical profession, and provide a window into the field.

The subspecialty journals focus on pediatrics, spine, functional neurosurgery, etc. Naturally, every journal seeks to publish only the highest-quality and most relevant content within its scope. In this regard, Neurosurgery and Operative Neurosurgery share a similar mission with several journals; therefore, to maintain our position as the registrar for the profession, we must strive to keep the journals not merely relevant but indispensable—goals we achieve through a commitment to excellence and innovation.

Over the past eight years, we have worked very hard to move the journals forward while honoring the legacy and tradition established by Neurosurgery’s founding editor-in-chief, Dr. Robert H. Wilkins, and so ably looked after by the other editors-in-chief emeriti, Dr. Clark Watts, Dr. Edward Laws, Jr., and Dr. Michael Apuzzo.

The foundation of any scholarly publication is editorial policy. This policy governs a wide array of issues including authorship, conflict of interest, and publication ethics. This policy is not static, but must be continually updated as the field of neurosurgery and the best practices of the publishing industry evolve and new challenges appear. To that end, we made several significant updates to the editorial policy, the most meaningful of which includes a more explicit elaboration on ethics regarding human subjects and patient consent,1 an endorsement of the Equator Network Reporting guidelines,2 and the formalization of an anti-plagiarism policy.3 These updates, in addition to the countless others formulated and revamped over the years, ensure the content published in Neurosurgery and Operative Neurosurgery remains rigorous and of the highest structural quality.

While at their core Neurosurgery and Operative Neurosurgery are journals whose primary objectives are to convey knowledge, we would be remiss if we were not willing to provide our readers with a variety of media through which to engage that content. Since the beginning of my term, we have made a conscious effort to utilize established and emerging multimedia applications and platforms. Over these past eight years, readers will have seen the journals employ such technology as QR codes4 and Layar.5 They will have seen our presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and our NEUROSURGERY Report blog.6 As the wider world of technology has evolved, so too has the journals’ engagement with and use of these tools. Some, like QR codes and Layar, have been adopted but ultimately surpassed. We are currently in the midst of relaunching our multilingual audio abstract series, now referred to “Neurosurgery Speaks” and “Operative Neurosurgery Speaks” and the multilingual text abstract series “Neurosurgery and Operative Neurosurgery Babel,” both available in 10 languages. We are convinced this will make journal content much more accessible to our international colleagues. As with all things, the adoption or discontinuation of technology requires awareness of the zeitgeist, careful analysis, and reanalysis from year to year. It is only through this attentiveness that we can keep the journals relevant and useful to their readers.

As mentioned previously, actively shepherding the journals into the 21st century while honoring the legacy and traditions of Neurosurgery is a prime concern. Our greatest accomplishment in this arena has perhaps been the development of Operative Neurosurgery. Originally conceived by my predecessor, Dr. Michael Apuzzo, Operative Neurosurgery was created to serve the practicing surgeon by providing him or her with the most timely and relevant literature on operative practice, instrumentation, and technique. More than 12 years passed since its inception as a supplement to Neurosurgery, and it has since flourished to a fully independent, PubMed-indexed publication offering its readers a wide variety of content and rich multimedia. A pivotal extension of Operative Neurosurgery’s emphasis on utility was the development and launch of The Surgeon’s Armamentarium.7 As a custom-designed digital content delivery platform, The Surgeon’s Armamentarium brings the sheer weight and wealth of NEUROSURGERY® Publications and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) to the user’s fingertips by allowing him or her to quickly call upon this ever-growing archive in order to access the desired operative content when and where they need it most—the OR.8

The horizon of opportunity is far and wide, and with vision, resources, and strong leadership, we can capitalize and realize the potential before us.

WE MADE SEVERAL SIGNIFICANT UPDATES TO THE EDITORIAL POLICY, THE MOST MEANINGFUL OF WHICH INCLUDES A MORE EXPLICIT ELABORATION ON ETHICS REGARDING HUMAN SUBJECTS AND PATIENT CONSENT, AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE EQUATOR NETWORK REPORTING GUIDELINES, AND THE FORMALIZATION OF AN ANTI-PLAGIARISM POLICY.
  1. “Ethics.” NEUROSURGERY® Publications Instructions for Authors. https://academic.oup. com/neurosurgery/pages/Author_Guidelines. Accessed June 12, 2017.
  2. Barker, FG II & Oyesiku, NM. The Registrar. Neurosurgery. 2011; 68(1):1-5.
  3. Oyesiku, NM. & MacRae, DA. The Registrar. Neurosurgery. 2011 68(4): 851-853.
  4. MacRae, DA. Introducing QR codes: linking print and digital content via smartphone. Neurosurgery. 2011;68(4):854-855.
  5. MacRae, DA. Augmented Reality in Print: Introducing the Neurosurgery “Layar.” Neurosurgery. 2011;71(3):555-556.
  6. Oyesiku, NM & MacRae, DA. The Registrar. Neurosurgery. 2010;66(6):1035.
  7. Oyesiku, NM. Operative Neurosurgery: The Surgeon’s Armamentarium. Operative Neurosurgery. 2016:12(1):1-3.
  8. Oyesiku, NM & Fiedor, BJ. The Registrar. Operative Neurosurgery. 2017:13(1):1.