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A new format for research

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THE beginning of the New Year sees a new approach to the way in which Veterinary Record publishes peer-reviewed research papers. From now on, starting with this issue, papers and short communications will be published continuously online on Veterinary Record's website (veterinaryrecord.bvapublications.com). The print version of the journal will no longer contain the full version of these articles. Instead, the print journal will contain detailed summaries that have been provided by the author(s), highlighting the main findings and significance of the work, along with any factors that might affect interpretation of the results.

The aim of these changes, which were announced in Veterinary Record in June last year (VR, June 19, 2010, vol 166, p 767), is allow us to publish research findings more quickly and make them more accessible to a wider professional readership. Peer-reviewed research is as important to Veterinary Record as it is to the development of the veterinary profession itself and, with its wide distribution among veterinary practitioners as well as institutions undertaking research, one of the key strengths of the journal is communicating new findings to practising vets. Researchers want their findings to be published as quickly as possible in a form that is readily accessible by their scientific peers internationally; in practical terms, this means publication online. Most practitioners, meanwhile, are more likely to read of new developments in print, particularly if they are in a subject outside their main area of interest. As busy clinicians, they also want the information presented in a concise, readable, easily assimilable form. By adopting the new format, which combines the best elements of print and online publishing, we hope to meet the needs of both communities more effectively, while strengthening the links between them.

Once they have been accepted for publication, papers and short communications will be published in the ‘Online First’ section of Veterinary Record's website as soon as they have been copyedited, typeset and approved by the author(s). Available in both PDF and HTML format, the online version will be given a unique doi number and will be the definitive version for citation and bibliometric purposes.

The summaries will be included in the print journal as soon as possible after the article has been published online. They will include more information than is usually the case with research paper abstracts and follow a standard format outlining the context and significance of the work, the approach taken, the results obtained (including any reasons why the results should be interpreted with caution), along with the main conclusion. They will also give the title of the paper and author details, along with the doi number that links to the full paper, so that anyone who wants more detail will be able to obtain this easily by referring to the full paper online.

Summaries of papers will occupy one page in the print journal, and summaries of short communications half a page. Figures and tables will be included where appropriate. Authors will not be required to provide the summary when submitting their article, but will be asked to do so once it has been accepted for publication. Since the new arrangements were announced last June, the response from authors has been very positive. Details are available in the notes for contribution on Veterinary Record's website but if authors wanting to submit an article have any questions, these can be directed to editorial{at}bva-edit.co.uk

Veterinary Record is not the only journal taking this approach to publishing original research. A similar approach has been adopted by the British Medical Journal, where it has been well received by contributors and readers (Groves and Schroter 2009).

By appearing as summaries, research papers will take up less space in the print journal, but their fundamental importance to Veterinary Record will not be diminished. The space made available will be put to good use, with a view to publishing more clinically relevant science, not less. As well as review articles, new content will include regular scientific editorials, such as the one by Veronica Roberts on p 17 of this issue, discussing a paper on headshaking in horses which was recently published online and is summarised on p 19. There will also be more feature articles, such as the one by Cathryn Mellersh on DNA testing of dogs, which appears on p 10. Taken together with other improvements to Veterinary Record, which over the past 12 months have included the inclusion of more news, careers and Viewpoint articles, as well as summaries of research articles appearing in other journals, the net effect should be to increase the value of the journal to readers and contributors alike.

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