In my 10 years as editor-in-chief of JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, we have selected about 1500 original research articles for publication. In recent years, the acceptance rate has been around 9%, so the editors have had to be very selective. Papers with high enough priority to be published in the journal have certain characteristics that I will describe in this chapter. There are, however, several other fine journals concentrating on publishing articles specific to interventional cardiology, and some of them have different interests. Also, general cardiology journals and the most selective medical journals also publish interventional cardiovascular papers. So the thought when preparing a research paper should not be, “Will it get published?” but, instead, “Which journal is best suited for my submission?” The answer to that question usually lies in the project itself. A well-planned research project will almost always result in a publishable paper. Knowledge of the type of papers published in each journal will aid in deciding where to send the paper.
When I assumed the role of editor-in-chief of JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions and associate editor of JACC, Tony DeMaria, the editor-in-chief of JACC, had stimulated the associate editors to reflect on how to get a paper published in a highly rated journal.1,2 I have modified those ideas over the years and will give you my advice as to what interventional cardiology journals are looking for. The first principle is the project itself. Without a well-planned research project, a publishable paper cannot be written. So what are the fundamental characteristics of an excellent research paper?
CHARACTERISTICS OF A RESEARCH PAPER
The 3 characteristics that editors are looking for in a research paper are novelty, accuracy, and importance. This thought process of “Is it new, true, and relevant?” goes through the mind of reviewers as well. Perhaps even before these characteristics are considered, the question “Is it interesting?” is entertained. Since the job of editors and reviewers is primarily to select papers that qualify for their journal, one should not underestimate the impact of the first impression. Is it interesting or not?
If the question being addressed has not been studied before, then it is ranked highly as novel. There are, of course, levels of novelty, and all authors attempt to justify why the project was undertaken. If the investigation has been done, then it should address what needs to be done in addition. Is it a much larger series or a comparison that confirms prior inadequately powered communications? Does it address a unique application or a unique population that has not been adequately studied? Numerous papers submitted to the journal are sometimes directed toward subsets of large pivotal trials. If these were not reported in the main paper, and especially if prespecified and addressing interesting questions, they are considered to have some novelty.