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More advice to contributors
  1. I B Pless, Editor

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    In the last issue, I reminded contributors of Original Articles that we had a 3000 word limit. I do so again and now broaden this contributor advisory to include the cardinal rule for any author—always read the instructions to authors in the journal of your choice. Then check that your paper meets all the requirements. Neglecting this all important rule will at least delay the review process. At worst, it may have a negative influence on the judgment of the editor or reviewers. (Of course, the best way to ensure that your paper fits is to be familiar with the journal—that is, to subscribe.)

    A common offense is failing to use approved Index Medicus abbreviations of journal titles in the references. But where are these to be found? In the past, I used to beg, borrow, or steal, from our hospital library, old copies of the List of Serials Indexed for Online Users issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Nowadays, it is possible to download all abbreviations from a web site, but this is extremely time consuming. Not being sure how best to help contributors find these abbreviations, I placed the question on several list servers. Almost immediately I received over 20 replies. About one half wondered why any journal was still insisting on these abbreviations and urged that we abandon the rule. Until we do so, the simplest solution for those with access to the web is to go to the Pubmed site. The full address is http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed, but usually just Pubmed will do. Enter the full title of the journal, et voila, the proper official abbreviation!

    Next, a word about keywords: these are important and should be chosen with care. They need not include “injury” or “prevention” because the indexers, given the journal title, automatically include both terms. What else appears is up to you; MESH terms are always preferable but these often fail to serve the injury prevention field well. The best way to decide on what is needed is to put yourself in the position of someone searching for your paper. Which search terms would you use, apart from those in the title, if you wanted to find your paper quickly? Once your paper is published, because Injury Prevention is listed in Index Medicus and other databases (not all journals meet the rigid requirements for such inclusion), a useful lesson is to search for your paper, and when you find it, see what terms the indexers have added.

    We now invite submissions by e-mail (preferably in Word, Wordperfect, or RTF). This saves time, money, trees, and permits rapid feedback if there are omissions or problems that need to be resolved before the paper is sent for review, often by e-mail.

    One final new request: in future, all contributing authors will be asked to submit one or more lists of bulleted key points. These will be “boxed” and placed in suitable posi-tions in the text to help the reader find the main messages more easily. (Another goal of this announcement is to see if anyone reads these editorials!)

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