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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 67-68

Opportunities for all to publish

Department of Ophthalmology, P. D. Hinduja National Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication25-Apr-2017

Correspondence Address:
Barun Kumar Nayak
Department of Ophthalmology, P. D. Hinduja National Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcor.jcor_36_17

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How to cite this article:
Nayak BK. Opportunities for all to publish. J Clin Ophthalmol Res 2017;5:67-8

How to cite this URL:
Nayak BK. Opportunities for all to publish. J Clin Ophthalmol Res [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Aug 13];5:67-8. Available from: https://www.jcor.in/text.asp?2017/5/2/67/205185

In the era of evidence-based medicine, everyone is interested in getting their name published. Anything new or any advancement in science needs to be published for the progress of science. We get to see various forms of scientific publications in the form of systematic review, meta-analysis, randomized control trials (RCT), case reports, and letter to editor in the descending order of importance. Meta-analysis and RCTs involve a lot of planning, time and resources. Although it is not everyone's cup of tea to perform extensive research, it is seen that case reports can be written by most doctors. They have to keep their minds open, use their observational power and resort to perfect reasoning. This editorial is written to help all those who are interested in writing case reports.

Case reports describe the new observations made in relation to a particular case.[1] They are known to cover any new features such as association with a particular syndrome, unknown clinical features of a disease, a different line of treatment for any condition, an unreported side effect of a medication, an unusual complication of a procedure, an innovative diagnostic application of an instrument, and a new etiological insight. A mere diagnosis of a rare disease does not qualify a case report to become publishable. There has to be something new or advancement in the understanding which must be shared to add to the existing knowledge. The exhaustive list of qualities which make a case report publishable is described by Cohen.[2] If your case fulfills any of the criteria mentioned in the list, the case becomes publishable and should be written in accordance with the requirement of the journal where one would want to submit it for publication.

From the author's perspective, writing a case report can be seen as advantageous. First and foremost, it is easy to write and can be completed within a relatively short span of time. It can also serve as a useful exercise for beginners. Having said this, one should not take it lightly. Each minute detail should be taken into consideration while writing the manuscript. Before one starts writing the case report, he/she must ensure that the case at hand has something unique or new which deserves publication. The case has to be thoroughly investigated and should be complete in all aspects.

Once a case is perceived as worth reporting a careful plan should be meticulously made from the beginning while managing the case. The two important aspects to be considered while writing a Case Report are a complete investigation and proper documentation. One cannot make up in any way for these deficiencies at the time of writing the Case Report, in the end. A highly recommended move for the author would be to do a complete literature search and go through the available literature and knowledge regarding the case. A thorough reading of “Instructions to Authors” of the journal that you intend to submit the Case Report is a must. It is imperative to follow these instructions to its core while writing the case report. The various parts of a Case Report are title, abstract, keywords, the main body (includes an introduction, complete description of the case, discussion) and references. It is mandatory to remain within limits provided by the journal for the various parts such as word count of abstract, main text, and number of references. Introduction should provide the summary of available literature followed by the purpose of reporting this case at the end based on the lacuna in literature. Most of the sentences in the introduction should be referenced. The introduction should emphasize the importance of the case in the light of the knowledge known at that time and justify how the Case Report will add to the knowledge once published. This should be followed by a description of the case which should have complete facts in all respects so that the reader can have the entire truth to visualize the case. The discussion is the most important but a rather difficult part to write and should aim to show some new light on any particular aspect of the disease. If you can generate a new hypothesis, it must be pointed out at the end. Only the most relevant references should be given as the number of references which can be cited are limited.

The value of case reports cannot be undermined. The case report of Kaposi's Sarcoma in a homosexual man was the starting point of development of a new deadly disease called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.[3] The idea of teratogenic effect of thalidomide initiated as a result of a publication of a case report which was followed by multiple such reports. This went on to change the policy for launching any new medicine. Case reports are important for a rare indication as no RCT can be conducted for an indication on a rare disease or for a rare indication. For detecting an event which occurs in one out of more than 1000 subjects, one has to plan a study of at least 3000 patients or more which is almost impossible. Many “off-label” uses or rare indications were introduced following case reports.[4],[5],[6] Many hypotheses are generated on the basis of case reports. One hundred and three case reports published in “Lancet” were followed after 5 years, and it was revealed that 24 reports were followed by either RCTs or were in the registry of RCT.[6] The importance of a case report is established on an elaborate scoring system reported by Pierson.[7] This is calculated by assigning a score of 0–2 for each of the five ingredients of a case report; documentation, uniqueness, educational value, objectivity, and interpretation. The precise scoring system has been expanded nicely by Pierson.[7] The cumulative score of 9–10 is considered as a very important case report and 6-8 considered as acceptable, but a score of 5 or less should be disregarded.

While writing case reports, two aspects are usually ignored - taking an “informed consent” from the subject for publication, and masking the identity of the subject from pictures, texts, investigations, and radiological images. Fortunately, institutional review board approval is not required for the case reports.

Given that Case Reports are the oldest form of medical publication,[8] I am sure, the case reports will always remain an indispensable form of the medical publication and their importance will never fade away. Being an editor over the past 12 years, I also feel that it can be considered in reality as a stepping stone and learning ground for budding researchers and authors.

  References Top

Rison RA. A guide to writing case reports for the Journal of Medical Case Reports and BioMed Central Research Notes. J Med Case Rep 2013;7:239.  Back to cited text no. 1
Cohen H. How to write a patient case report. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2006;63:1888-92.  Back to cited text no. 2
Gottlieb GJ, Ragaz A, Vogel JV, Friedman-Kien A, Rywlin AM, Weiner EA, et al. A preliminary communication on extensively disseminated Kaposi's sarcoma in young homosexual men. Am J Dermatopathol 1981;3:111-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sharquie KE. Suppression of Behçet's disease with dapsone. Br J Dermatol 1984;110:493-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bigby M. The blue Journal 25 years ago: Lever WF. Pemphigus and pemphigoid: A review of the advances made since 1964. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;51:416.  Back to cited text no. 5
Albrecht J, Werth VP, Bigby M. The role of case reports in evidence-based practice, with suggestions for improving their reporting. J Am Acad Dermatol 2009;60:412-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
Pierson DJ. How to read a case report (or teaching case of the month). Respir Care 2009;54:1372-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Bavdekar SB, Save S. Writing case reports: Contributing to practice and research. J Assoc Physicians India 2015;63:44-8.  Back to cited text no. 8


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