Personal view or opinion piece
Open Access

The vulnerability and jubilation of publication; a reflection on publishing with MedEdPublish

Lorna Davin[1]

Institution: 1. University of Notre Dame, Australia
Corresponding Author: Dr Lorna Davin ([email protected])
Categories: Scholarship/Publishing
Published Date: 13/02/2020


Promoting your research findings to the broader academic and clinical community requires publication dependent on peer review.

This opinion piece is a short reflection on the author's journey as she completes her PhD and traverses the fickle world of peer review and publication.

Feeling deflated after a poor journal review, the author briefly explores the vulnerability of rejection, and the rewarding consequences of publishing on-line with MedEdPublish, as an open access journal, where post-publication reviews are transparent and there is an opportunity to engage in a shared dialogue with members of the community of practice.

Keywords: Publication; vulnerability; reviewers; feedback; constructive; robust; transparent; community of practice

The vulnerability and jubilation of publication; a reflection on publishing with MedEdPublish

When completing a PhD you really are undertaking an apprenticeship in research; it is a beginning not an end in itself. You hope to contribute an original contribution to the field, in my case, as a qualitative researcher, to build understanding and in the long run, improve the doctor’s journey in the hope of ultimately improving the patient experience. Promoting your research outcome to the broader academic and clinical community requires publication dependent on peer review.

Rigorous supervision, demanding milestones and the scrutiny of internationally renowned examiners prepares you little for the publication journey. After submitting to a recognized journal and receiving a less than favourable review of my 5000 word summary of my PhD – where I agonized over what to and what not to include, of my 80,000 word thesis – I felt a total failure, a fraud. It was with enormous trepidation I picked myself up, brushed myself off and carried on … determined that the interns’ voices in my study be heard.

Publishing with MedEdPublish, also has its fair share of vulnerability. In submitting your article you submit yourself to open, post-publication review from a cadre of reviewers, they comment and rate you online for all to see.  There is a potential vulnerability for the reviewer too, as their review may place them at odds with their fellow reviewers.

I remember pressing the final submit button with enormous angst, going to bed with a knot in my stomach, and my eyes squeezed tight with tension, making a promise to myself that I would not look at the results overnight. Tossing and turning, I broke my promise by about 2am!!! To my delight the publication resonated with reviewers and readers. Approximately three hundred reads over the first 24 hours, and constructive feedback, with predominantly positive reviews. The paper, 'Compassion, the first emotion ditched when I’m busy’. The struggle to maintain our common humanity, has gone on to be nudging 5000 reads and 8 reviews, rating an average of 4/5, but more importantly, medical students and interns have shown enormous interest in the journey of the eight interns who I followed over a year. Some have written to me sharing how reading the article has supported them in feeling less alone in their struggle.

Yes, I made the mistake of not providing enough detail of my theoretical approach, in the summarized paper, in preference to sharing the interns’ narrative, and yes, with a few more years’ experience, I understand how I could have better positioned my theoretical approach, but this does not diminish the lived experience of the junior doctors in sharing their journey in their own words.

To receive MedEdPublish’s Best Publication for 2018-19 at AMEE in Vienna, was the surprising icing on the cake, giving me the opportunity to attend AMEE in Glasgow in 2020. I have just returned from the Asia Pacific Med Ed Conference in Singapore after the article won the University of Notre Dame’s National Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academia’s $2000 award for article which 'most influenced learners'.

So for me, while the feedback from the original journal highlighted where I could improve, MedEdPublish engaged me in a constructive on-line learning dialogue, while providing me with a platform to share my study and the interns’ stories, all within the broad embrace of a supportive, robust, transparent and nurturing community of practice, for which I am very grateful.

Take Home Messages

  • The publication journey is a vulnerable one, where we can learn from the failure of rejection, both individually and collectively
  • Learn from your rejections and feedback, but do not allow the process to define your worth as a scholar, or the validity of your findings
  • Open access, post-publication peer review, as a progressive alternative model, provides an opportunity for a transparent, shared dialogue, where engagement is encouaged, and learning is nurtured, within a supportive community of practice

Notes On Contributors

Dr. Lorna Davin is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Education, in the School of Medicine, at the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA), Fremantle, Western Australia. She is Program Coordinator for the UNDA Health Professional Education postgraduate suite of courses and teaches into the program. She has over 20 years’ experience in hospital based health professional education. She also has community and local government experience working in aged care, disability and sexuality. Lorna completed her PhD in medical education with the University of Queensland, School of Medicine. She is a qualitative researcher who uses narrative inquiry. Her area of interest is in affective learning, the hidden curriculum, compassion and self-compassion in healthcare - for both patients and their doctors. She is a regular presenter at state and national conferences, has contributed several publications to the field and supervised a range of students undertaking research in medical and health professional education. 









There are no conflicts of interest.
This has been published under Creative Commons "CC BY-SA 4.0" (

Ethics Statement

Not required as this is an opinion piece.

External Funding

This article has not had any External Funding


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P Ravi Shankar - (27/02/2020) Panel Member Icon
This is an interesting read. The author has described the vulnerability and jubilation of publication very well. The challenges of condensing a thesis into a publication has been well brought out. As a researcher who has published and reviewed often I could identify with the author. She has also commented on MedEdPublish and the system of post-publication peer review which it follows. Rating a paper is a challenging task and we may not be able to put ourselves in the position of the researcher and the challenges he or she may have faced to carry out the work. I am of the opinion that MedEdPublish publishes more practical papers and offers a wider range of submissions than more traditional print or online journals. This short article will be of interest to a wide variety of readers.
Trudie Roberts - (21/02/2020) Panel Member Icon
I enjoyed reading this piece on the emotional investment when submitting your work for publication. I read this piece after looking at an article in Nature entitled 'What to do when you grant is reject" and there are commonalities.

Perhaps Laura and others could write a follow up on what to do when you get a paper rejected - rejection recovery - as I think this could be very helpful for the medical education community.
Ken Masters - (19/02/2020) Panel Member Icon
An interesting and useful reflection piece dealing with the ups and downs (but mostly ups) of publishing in MedEdPublish.

In this short piece, the author succinctly points to the experience of moving from PhD to publication. The attempt at trying to reduce an 80,000-word PhD to 5,000 words would be too daunting for most (I certainly would never be able to do it), so it is not entirely surprising that the author found it difficult to do, and then had a less-than positive response to her first submission. Most of us have been there with our first and even second and third submissions :-(. The author is to be commended on her resilience.

The submission to MedEdPublish had a different response. As an early reader and reviewer of that paper, I was immediately impressed by it, and my overall thought was “People need to read this” – it appears that many of the MedEd community thought much the same, as the number of reads, accolades and responses from other readers can testify.

This reflection piece also notes the difficulties and value of the post-publication, open peer-review model followed by MedEdPublish. Traditional education institutions are currently struggling with recognition of such publications, “indexing” system are only now beginning to address it, and reviewers and authors experience the same trepidation indicated by the author. The author’s experience, however, shows that, although the path ahead may be difficult, it is a worthwhile challenge.

As both a medical educator and editor of this journal, I am indeed pleased at the authors’ learning experience, which has come as a well-earned reward for courage and perseverance.

Possible Conflict of Interest:

For transparency, I am an Associate Editor of MedEdPublish.