"Every Set of Data Needs a Story"

Vikas Bhatt and Joe Ladowski are the current Editors-in-Chief of in-Training; in the last part of our interview, we asked their advice for authors. You can read their full interview and learn more about in-Training, an award-winning magazine written for and by medical students worldwide, here.

In peer-reviewed medical/scientific literature, telling the story is one of the most difficult challenges (as opposed to just presenting data) – what advice would you give authors in that regard?

Albert Einstein allegedly said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” In our opinion, good medical literature is elegant in its simplicity. Often times, the story makes sense in your head but when the words are on paper in the hands of another, they just don’t click. The beauty of our editorial process is that the pieces get two or three sets of fresh eyes on them before they are published. When we read at a piece on in-Training, we look for the answer to four questions that could likely be asked of scientific literature: 1) Why did you look at this topic 2) Why is it important to me? 3) Where’s the evidence for your argument? 4) What does your conclusion mean to me?

Further, here are a few general pieces of advice to keep in mind. Every set of data needs a story, and likewise, every story needs the details that make it compelling. Having one without the other is to have a printer without ink. The story that the data explains or tries to resolve is important, if not more important than the data itself. If you think it is not, why are you collecting the data in the first place? Thus, make sure to share that you’re your readers. Second, we have seen that some of the most successful pieces on in-Training are those that look at hard truths and approach them with unforgiving honesty – reflections that look at our own failings, research that reveals a story not often shared, or explaining the “why” as much as the “what” and the “how.” In this regard, writers must be fearless. If you feel compelled enough to write the story, chances are that the story is compelling enough that people will want to read it.

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Vikas Bhatt and Joe Ladowski are the current Editors-in-Chief of in-Training; in the last part of our interview, we asked their advice for authors. You can read their full interview and learn more about in-Training, an award-winning magazine written for and by medical students worldwide, here.

In peer-reviewed medical/scientific literature, telling the story is one of the most difficult challenges (as opposed to just presenting data) – what advice would you give authors in that regard?

Albert Einstein allegedly said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” In our opinion, good medical literature is elegant in its simplicity. Often times, the story makes sense in your head but when the words are on paper in the hands of another, they just don’t click. The beauty of our editorial process is that the pieces get two or three sets of fresh eyes on them before they are published. When we read at a piece on in-Training, we look for the answer to four questions that could likely be asked of scientific literature: 1) Why did you look at this topic 2) Why is it important to me? 3) Where’s the evidence for your argument? 4) What does your conclusion mean to me?

Further, here are a few general pieces of advice to keep in mind. Every set of data needs a story, and likewise, every story needs the details that make it compelling. Having one without the other is to have a printer without ink. The story that the data explains or tries to resolve is important, if not more important than the data itself. If you think it is not, why are you collecting the data in the first place? Thus, make sure to share that you’re your readers. Second, we have seen that some of the most successful pieces on in-Training are those that look at hard truths and approach them with unforgiving honesty – reflections that look at our own failings, research that reveals a story not often shared, or explaining the “why” as much as the “what” and the “how.” In this regard, writers must be fearless. If you feel compelled enough to write the story, chances are that the story is compelling enough that people will want to read it.