Cancer Screening

April 2009


Publish or perish?

Evaluation of a writing week

Volume 38, No.4, April 2009 Pages 257-260

Meredith Temple-Smith

Felicity Goodyear-Smith

Jane Gunn


To improve research publication output, a general practice department in Australia declared a department wide ‘writing week’.


Components included: pre-registration, an initial presentation followed by scheduled one-on-one sessions with an external facilitator, a progress ‘running sheet’, voucher incentives, and a concluding session for shared feedback and ‘prize giving’.


Ninety percent (18/90) of potential staff participated, from novice to senior. In the subsequent 3 months eight papers were submitted and a further nine were nearing completion. Expressed benefits were having dedicated and structured time, collegial support and an external facilitator.


While effectiveness of writing week could not be precisely measured with respect to publication outputs, researchers, regardless of seniority, benefited from the provision of structural knowledge, quarantined time and/or support to write up research.

For better or worse, the research output of academics is measured by the number of publications, citation rates and the impact factor of peer reviewed journals in which they publish.1 While the impact factor is a crude measure which may not adequately represent scientific quality and overall impact of a paper within a given field,2 quantity and quality of publications are critical to an individual's academic review and may influence future employment. This is as true for primary health care academics as it is for biomedical and general scientists.3

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