Young Physician Newsletter

Welcome to the first Young Physician Newsletter. We realize that you are busy professional juggling life and work. Some of you may even be in a time of transition with moves, job changes and family obligations. We have all been there (some of us more recently than others) and we are excited be able to reach out to you and provide some assistance. In this inaugural issue of our Young Physician Newsletter, we look at common mistakes in manuscript writing, consider the value of volunteering and working to rekindle personal goals that you may have put on hold while training, and remind you of the ways you can prepare to pass your echo boards and limit your stress. We look forward to your input and welcome your involvement. You may send any comments to us at at ase@asecho.org.

Thank you for your membership,
Sunil Mankad, MD, FASE
ASE Membership Chair

Ten Mistakes To Avoid–How NOT To Write A Successful Manuscript

To err is human.

But to be human also means having the capacity to learn from the mistakes of others.

In this vein, the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography (JASE) Editor-in-Chief, Alan S. Pearlman, MD, FASE, wrote an editorial in the November 2008 JASE, “Ten Mistakes to Avoid-How NOT To Write a Successful Manuscript.”  Five years later, Dr. Pearlman’s advice is still as salient and well worth a revisit . The following is an abridged version of his sage advice (http://www.onlinejase.com/article/S0894-7317%2810%2900281-6/fulltext).

  1. Choose the wrong topic – The topic of your paper is the first, and perhaps the most critical, point to consider. Some papers address issues that are controversial, important, and of high clinical interest. However, some prospective authors undertake studies simply to use a new technique or a new piece of equipment in order to see what they can see, with no hypothesis to be tested, few measures of accuracy, and little discussion of the significance of their findings. Reviewers sometimes refer to this as ‘bird-watching’, and it is not often a good strategy. A paper that reiterates known findings or focuses on an uncommon issue of little clinical relevance is far less likely to be published than a paper that discusses a novel and important topic, and includes convincing data that will influence clinical practice.
  2. Ignore Instructions for Authors – Poor or careless preparation can make it difficult for reviewers, editors, and readers alike to understand the message of a manuscript. It is not difficult to read directions, organize a manuscript in the recommended manner, and follow guidelines regarding length, reference citations and illustrations. Failure to do so implies carelessness, which reflects poorly on the authors and raises questions about whether or not they have been similarly careless in the conduct of their study.
  3. Fail to clarify the goals, major findings, and significance of your study – Most well written papers begin with a short introduction that discusses-clearly but succinctly-the background and rationale for the study they have undertaken. Good studies focus on the key questions studied and the critical findings, and do not dilute these elements unnecessarily.  Making a manuscript more complicated than it needs to be often causes the paper to be ineffective.
  4. Fail to describe the study population adequately – For the results of a study to be meaningful, readers need to be given information that is sufficiently clear and detailed to decide if the findings apply to their own patients, or if the results simply generate some interesting hypotheses that first need to be tested in a wider study population before they can be generalized for clinical use. Careless or inadequate description of the study population (and the methods used to study them) can undermine an otherwise important study topic.
  5. Don’t bother to acknowledge limitations – All studies have limitations, and the successful author acknowledges them, thereby providing some balance and context for his or her conclusions and recommendations.  Failure to consider the possible shortcomings of a study, and failure to discuss these in a Limitations section, often causes imbalance and may make conclusions appear overstated or unjustified.
  6. Ignore relevant publications on the topic of your paper – In writing papers, authors are encouraged to cite relevant references that discuss related methods, research findings, or potential applications of their own results.  In general, references are cited in the Introduction section to clarify the rationale for the study, in the Methods section to support the techniques and analytic approaches employed, and in the Results section to help place the findings and recommendations in context. A wise author cites the most important and timely references to support what he or she has done, and to place the key study findings in context.
  7. Don’t include representative images as illustrations – Ours is an imaging journal, and the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” has some relevance. Since authors can choose which illustrations to submit, and since they presumably select the best ones available, an article accompanied by poor quality illustrations suffers from the obvious concern that if the illustrations are not clear and effective, the data are probably questionable and the conclusions may be flawed. Since JASE is now able to include (in our online platform) suitable video clips to accompany static images in the print journal, the ideal strategy is to include good quality images and companion video clips so that reviewers and readers can best appreciate the points that authors wish to emphasize.
  8. Include a cover letter to a different journal! – This faux pas tells me that the paper almost certain had been considered-and presumably declined-by another journal. There is nothing wrong with having received a rejection letter-all good authors receive many rejection letters over the course of their careers.  But when authors fail to pay attention to this seemingly obvious detail, it makes me wonder if they have been equally careless in preparing their manuscript or in conducting their research, and if they have made careful efforts to correct the deficiencies that presumably led to rejection elsewhere.
  9. Submit multiple papers on different aspects of the same topic – Reviewers sometimes term this “data splitting” or use the more colorful but equally descriptive term “salami science”. Sometimes emphasizing different parts of a complex study is appropriate – for example, the readers of one journal might be most interested in the technical aspects of what was done, while the readers of a second journal may have little interest in the technical nuances but may have a high interest in the clinical implications of the findings. I don’t encourage authors to submit papers that are most likely an effort to create two publications from one study, but if they are bound and determined to do so, submitting them at the same time to the same journal is not a wise move!
  10. Ignore reviewers’ comments when revising your paper – I would encourage prospective authors to think of the peer review process not as a means of deciding whether or not their paper ought to be published, but rather as an exercise in quality improvement. Most of the issues raised by reviewers with expertise in the area discussed in a paper are worthy of careful consideration, and making changes in response to their comments almost always makes the revised paper better than the original version. At its best, peer review is a process in which both authors and reviewers are on the “same side” rather than adversaries-both want the final paper to be as good as it can be.

Dr. Pearlman concludes his top ten, “I hope that these points help authors to avoid some important pitfalls, and readers to understand more about the process of creating the articles that they read. As always, I can be reached at jaseeditor@asecho.org if you have comments or suggestions.”

The Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography is in its 26th year of publication and receives submissions from 41 countries. A “Top Ten Essential Journal for Cardiologists,” JASE is available online and via iPad app. Detailed information on how to submit a paper to JASE can be found at http://ees.elsevier.com/jase.

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Broaden Your Professional Experience and Help a Cause you Care About – Volunteer with ASE

Committee membership is one of the most valuable ways that an individual member can affect the course of ASE while participating in something that is of personal value to you.  And, if you are interested in applying to become a Fellow of the American Society of Echocardiography (FASE), volunteering to serve on an ASE committee or task force serves as an activity that meets the volunteer/leadership criteria.

If you are interested in revisiting personal goals that you may have put off during training, consider getting involved. Our process is simple; calls  for volunteers go out in November through the regular Wednesday newsletter with links to an online form to indicate your interest and availability. Reenergize yourself by participating in intellectually stimulating projects with a variety of formats (virtual, in person, collaborative, short or long term). Volunteer with ASE; it is a win-win.

Below is a list of committees. For more information, please contact Mary Alice Dilday at madilday@asecho.org

Advocacy Committee

  • Communicates with members regarding ASE’s position on legislative or regulatory issues and monitors federal and state legislative, coding and reimbursement issues.

Bylaws & Ethics Committee

  • Oversees association practices to ensure that ethical practices are followed, reviews all bylaws change requests and makes recommendations to the board, and reviews volunteers’ conflict of interest statements.

CME Committee

  • Charged with overseeing ASE’s educational materials to meet ACCME requirements and review the program content of ASE educational activities.

Education Committee

  • Reviews educational plans for ASE activities to ensure that each activity has a unique identity and reviews course evaluations and proposed agendas to assist in quality improvement of ASE activities.

Finance/Strategy & Development Committee

  • Monitors the long-term financial structure of the association and oversees ASE and ASE Foundation investments and financial strategies.

Guidelines and Standards Committee

  • Reviews and edits new standards documents for consistency and alignment with society’s standards and values, and supervises task forces and councils that are developing standards and training documents.

Information Technology Committee

  • Charged with responding to the ever changing technological needs of ASE’s membership by creating content and content delivery systems that allow members to access educational content via the web and other platforms.

Membership Committee

  • Works closely with the membership department to develop strategies and activities to improve retention and enhance the growth of ASE.

Research Committee

  • Develops strategies for securing funding for furthering technological advances in cardiovascular imaging and therapy using ultrasound and plans major research initiatives.

Research Award Committee

  • Oversees ASE Foundation research awards and grants process.

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 Limit Your Stress – ASE Helps You Pass the Boards

The American Society of Echocardiography is dedicated to excellence in echocardiography, which starts with the success of our members! This is why we have developed an ASCeXAM/ReASCE Review Course and Online Practice Exam Simulation to prepare you for the National Board of Echocardiography, Inc. TM (NBE) ASCeXAM® and ReASCE® examinations.

In a recent survey, 97% of people who took this course passed the echo exam. Comments included:  “excellent course, well-organized and had great speakers” and “well-tailored for the exam!”

For registration and information, please view the Review Course page online.

The 2014 course will take place at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on May 11-13 in Philadelphia, PA and will provide illustrative lectures, case studies, and interactive lessons. Designed with the computer-based examination administration in mind, an Audience Response System and question and answer sessions facilitate faculty interaction and self-guided learning.

If you can’t attend the course in person, consider going virtual. Your membership saves you $150 off of the 2013 conference. Or, purchase individual sessions of your choice. The online Review course is available at www.ASEUniversity.org where you can access your education on your time.

Practice Makes Perfect – Online Simulation Test Identifies your Weak and Strong Areas for Effective Study Planning

Online Practice Exam Simulation  - www.ASEUniversity.org
The new ASCeXAM/ReASCE Online Practice Exam Simulation features a bank of 300 multiple choice questions containing over 400 images and videos. Topics include: the physical principles of cardiovascular ultrasound;  valvular heart disease; ventricular size and function, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathies; congenital heart disease and fetal echocardiography; as well as cardiac masses, pericardial disease, myocardial contract and the latest applications in echocardiography; M-mode, 2-Dimensional and Doppler echocardiography. In addition to objective-based questions, case studies are included to evaluate your knowledge of the field.

This product gives you a 13-week access period and includes unlimited practice quizzes to help you acclimate to the format as well as two, 150-question tests you may take up to six times each to practice. Grading and feedback is saved and your incorrect and correct answers are analyzed so that you may focus your study accordingly. Feedback includes explanations of the correct and incorrect answers, offering valuable instruction.

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