‘Thoughts on Writing – Academic versus Clinical?’

Thoughts on writing is a precursor to this month’s reflective podiatric practice article. Why don’t podiatrists write more papers and pieces of interest? A colleague inferred that ‘Academics’ were stealing the limelight, ‘that’s what they do and have time for’. The purpose behind this article is to encourage and say ask for help.

You can now download a reflective practice article on a similar subject that looks at how to read and critique papers. February 2019. Reading Evidence

Thoughts on writing

This short article and post is intended to encourage writing and say ask for help. Colleagues probably write more in their early career as an imperative toward a specific goal, usually for a first or higher degree. The number of conversions to publishable papers, however, is a different matter. Indeed, this is not an easy task having just lost the incentive of the university deadline as the graduate returns to the clinical scene where his or her daily grind is measured by the patient rather than publication output.

‘Published papers rarely offer much value’

Some years ago and in discussion with an orthopaedic colleague on the subject of publications his take was simple. ‘Published papers rarely offer much value’, he said in his cynical if not draconian way. Was this to excuse his lack of interest, or was it that few papers offered much to say of critical value. Clinical research is painfully slow and so often due to limitations of design, we can only probe so far. Do we wait until the next version comes along and the next and start piecing it all together in the ever popular meta-analysis study? Someone has to start off asking the basic question, then take the plunge. That plunge is becoming increasingly more difficult. Changing the world at the stroke of the pen, or tap of the keyboard is surprisingly unattainable without longitudinal studies.

Is it true that not everyone is keen to write? Just look at Social Media; Podiatry UK or UK Podiatry and the DoPS Group on Facebook, Tweets, Instagram and Linkedin. Podiatrists write all the time about day to day experiences. They ask queries and it is a good medium to acquire knowledge quickly.

‘There are many forms of writing’

Writing takes time and few can commit a single draft without re-writes. That just knocks the stuffing out of the average person – so why bother? There are many forms of writing; case histories, reviews of virtually any publication, posts of patient comments and clinical experiences, product information of value, and that is before we come close to the academic side where a certain formality is necessary. I am all for trying your own style of writing whether it be formal or informal, although for podiatrists it is useful to include a bit of factual evidence.

Perhaps there is a fear of writing, but probably time-factors contribute to the lack of production. Doubtless, you are a brilliant clinician, but learn how to shout about it, of course with a little humility.

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Thanks for reading ‘Thoughts on Writing’ written by David Tollafield and published by Busypencilcase Communications Ltd for ConsultingFootPain under Clinician Portal. Original article July 2018. Updated April 2019

E-mail: davidt@busypencilcase.com