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Women in Science

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Video clip: Helen and co-authors didn’t give up when they had their article rejected by the BMJ: they collected more cases, re-wrote the paper and it was published in the Christmas BMJ.

Well I think now because there are so many journals out there and there are so many opportunities for publication I think it’s, I think it’s easier to get published now than it used to be. But it’s less common to get publications in very high impact journals, so I think that was unusual. I think you know now I encourage my medical students to submit things; so there’s a conference that’s up at the hospital once a year called Research in Clinical Practice where anybody can submit a poster, and that’s a really good way of getting a, getting something which counts as a publication or presentation. I think, well I’d encourage other people just to go for it.

I mean it, it was, yeah it was good that it [the publication in the Christmas BMJ] ended up being, something that ended up so big, but it, partly that was, partly that was luck, but partly it was that I had lots of support from other people which I think made, I think made a big difference. And also that I was quite persevering but there were a few stages where I could have just given up so it got, we actually submitted it to the BMJ the year before and they rejected it and said you know you don’t have ethical approval and the confidence intervals are very wide, cos our sample was only something like 32 patients, and they said something like, ‘If you were to run another study where you, you know you collect more data and the confidence intervals are narrower then we might think about publication in the future.’ And I think many people would just see that as a rejection and say, ‘Oh well that’s not going to be published.’ But I said, ‘Right, let’s, let’s do that then. Let’s apply for ethical approval and go and collect the data again and sort it out, get in collaborators and things like that.’ I think that was what probably what made the difference there in getting it published. And then it made it quite difficult for the BMJ to then say no. Because they had been the ones who said, ‘Well if you do another study we might publish it.’

You made that quite clear in your covering letter?

Yes, exactly, exactly. And they liked it because it was very, it was sort of a slightly amusing thing to do, they took it for the Christmas edition which then of course has lots of coverage associated with that, so I went on the radio which was quite good fun, and things like that.