How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries? A Practical Guide, Springer Nature, 2022

Dr. Sham Santhanam

Consultant Rheumatologist, Department of Rheumatology, Kauvery Hospital, Chennai


Dr. S. Sham - Best Rheumatologist in Chennai

Samiran Nundy, Atul Kakar, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

Who is an ‘ideal doctor’, though most of us want to be one! The true meaning of the word ‘doctor’ in Latin is ‘teacher’. A ‘doctor’ should treat the patients, teach the students, be involved in research and should help in the betterment of overall healthcare. The doctors as a fraternity should contribute towards generating evidence-based medicine and in framing of healthcare policies for the population. In India, the healthcare system has been divided into public and private sectors, which are further divided into medical colleges or institutions, and private hospitals or clinics. The process of research and academic publishing mostly happens in teaching institutions, of which only a handful of institutions contribute both in terms of quantity and quality. Unless, we as a country generate our own data it is difficult to frame population specific healthcare guidelines and policies.

We have three eminent authors with extensive publication experience and first-hand knowledge, touching on the important aspect of “Medical academic publishing’ in this book. They have discussed the importance, challenges and the solutions of medical research in the context of a developing country. In the first few chapters, the authors have discussed on the challenges of doing research in a developing country and have also stressed the importance of generating region specific data. All these have been backed up by data from original studies. The authors have beautifully stressed on how ‘medical research’ should automatically gel with clinical practice irrespective of the type and place of practice. The part I and II of this book are really important, because unless a doctor has an insight into the importance and seriousness of ‘academic medicine’ it is difficult for them to get motivated in doing research.

The third section deals with the various ingredients needed to design a study, like framing a proper research question, study design, calculation of sample size and research ethics. Similar to cooking, we should keep all the ingredients ready before we start doing a study. But, due to ignorance many start with the study and later look into these aspects. It is mandatory to discuss with the statistician before starting the study or collecting the data. The basic concepts of bio-statistics have been explained crisply. The authors could have added more study-based examples for explaining the concepts in bio-statistics, for easier understanding.

The fourth section deals with the publishing of an ‘Original article’. The authors have beautifully explained the ‘IMRaD’ format (Introduction, methods, results and discussion) and on how it has to be written. They have also discussed about ‘abstract’, ‘title’, ‘keywords’ and ‘references’. These sections are no less important and many a times play a decisive role in the acceptance or rejection of a manuscript and also its visibility after acceptance. This section also discusses the concept of ‘plagiarism’ and other ethical aspects. Authors often tend to get involved in publication misconducts knowing or unknowingly. This book has chapters covering comprehensively on this aspect of ‘publication ethics’. The section five deals with the writing of other types of journal articles from case reports to systematic reviews, as each type has its own relevance in the hierarchical pattern of evidence based medicine.

The section six covers on choosing the right journal for publication, the editorial process, handling rejections, peer reviewing, journal and author metrics. The subsequent sections discuss the practical tips for poster or platform presentation in conferences and on instructions to start a medical journal. The ninth section deals with various aspects of medical education and teaching like bedside teaching, problem based learning, preparing for a lecture and conducting a journal club. The last section deals with other miscellaneous topics like medical audit, drug trials and the importance of medical records and ways to maintain it.

As a whole, this book deals with A-Z of academic medicine, right from the emphasis on the importance of research, planning a research study, writing it up for a journal, choosing the journal and getting it published ethically. The sections have been divided meaningfully and in a chronological order. The question-and-answer format makes it easy for the readers to comprehend. The illustrative tables and the beautiful cartoons make the book more attractive to read. The book is a must to have for any doctor irrespective of the phase of their career, right from undergraduate students to seasoned researchers. And this book is all the more important for a developing country like India as the authors have beautifully stressed that research has to go hand in hand with clinical practice, irrespective of the place of practice. This book will help in overcoming the two most important challenges. i.e the initial inertia and ignorance in ‘medical academic publishing’.

Happy reading!!

Dr. Sham Santhanam

Dr. Sham Santhanam

Consultant Rheumatologist