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Publishing in the Medical Sciences: Traditional Scholarly Publishing

Welcome to Publishing in Medical Journals: A Place for Identifying the Best Publication for Your Research

What is Scholarly Publishing?

Scholarly publishing is where academic professionals cultivate ideas and pursue truths. Those in the health sciences accomplish this through both quantitative and qualitative research that is then evaluated, disseminated, and preserved for future reference. The below web sources give a succinct overview of scholarly publishing's traditional operation:

Traditional Scholarly Publishing Definitions and Evolutions

ICMJE Notes on the Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals

Traditional Scholarly Publishing

The traditional scholarly publication model is a cycle involving researchers, medical institutions, publishers, peer reviewers, editors, and even libraries. The steps of this cycle generally follow the same procedure:

  • First, researchers conduct research. Often this research is facilitated by certain institutions and further funded/co-opted by foundational or government grants.
  • After prepping for publication, the research report is submitted to publishers who review its analysis, findings and final manuscript details.
  • The publishers then decide whether the research will go on to peer reviewers who in turn make editorial suggestions to the researchers.
  • Upon the researchers satisfying the peer reviewers' editorial suggestions, the published manuscript is published in the journal.
  • The journals are then disseminated to other researchers through libraries' journal subscriptions or, in some cases, personal subscriptions.
  • Libraries and other repositories further preserve the journals for availability in the future

Traditional Publishing Business Model

Within the traditional model, publishers make a profit three ways:

  1. Institutional memberships
  2. Third-party advertising
  3. Submission fees to authors.

The first two methods are the most common as most traditional publishers do not operate by charging authors. With institutional memberships, revenue is generated through user-based subscription fees to libraries or other repositories for various degrees of access. Certain publishers may also charge by article to those wishing to access the material without a subscription. In the health sciences, specialized journals can even offer discounts to individual subscribers.

The Traditional Scholarly Publishing Model

Publishing Research


To compensate for the quick turnaround time in contemporary publishing, access to a certain journal may be temporarily prevented because of an embargo. A journal publisher may set up an embargo for a designated period of time (generally between six months and two years) to preserve the content of the article while collecting needed revenue. An embargo may also occur because institutional subscriptions do not cover the cost of access under their current contract. See this article for further information on journal embargoes:

The Logic Behind Journal Embargoes

Look for current embargoes with Elsevier's Journal Embargo Finder

Changes & Trends

Scholarly publishing is currently a changing mechanism. As the traditional model shifts to accommodate a more flexible role, publishing within the medical sciences has taken on several different forms and formats. These still include traditional books or journal articles, many with peer-reviewed editorial processes and usually available through fee-based subscriptions. Yet publishing now encompasses other mediums and means of access. Things like committee or conference proceedings, ongoing studies, and even web-based interactions now constitute platforms for promoting scholarly information. Traditional journals and publishers have also worked to establish better document delivery methods. This essentially means a more streamlined effort to provide professionals with relevant information through updated methods of licensing and distribution. With the increase in digital communication, the Open Access movement has made both peer-reviewed and other resources available with fewer restrictions. Scholarly publishing has even reinvented its terminology as "scholarly communication" to highlight the ways which modern research can bypass modes of the traditional, subscription-based publishing. 

BMJ Case Reports via TTUHSC

Currently, the TTUHSC library has an institutional fellowship with the British Medical Journal's Case Reports. BMJ Case Reports is an award winning journal that delivers a focused, peer-reviewed, valuable collection of cases in all disciplines so that healthcare professionals, researchers and others can easily find clinically important information on common and rare conditions. This is the largest single collection of case reports online with more than 15,000 articles from over 70 countries. TTUHSC's fellowship with this journal means that resident faculty, staff, and students can publish through it on a cost-free basis. See this research guide for further information. 

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