Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Meet the Editors: Lin Perry

Ten things about Lin:

1. Why did you become a nurse?
My youngest child was born with a major problem and as a result I spent a lot of time in hospitals, watching, listening and talking to nurses. Having to leave your sick child in other people's care sharpens your focus and I thought a lot about the profession in whose hands I was leaving my son. When I was able to start on a career track, I chose nursing because I'd felt the value of good nursing in my own life.

2. Why did you become an editor?
I enjoy writing as an art form and have enormous respect for the power of language. I became an editor because I believe it's not just what you say but the way that you say it that's important and the editor's job is to help authors communicate better and make their work a pleasure to read. With journal and publication numbers multiplying exponentially, writing quality as well as content influences readers' attention spans, and it's a privilege to help bring good work to readers' notice.

3. What is the best thing about being an editor?
Getting to read the good stuff first! My career history, my current 'day job' and my personal research all mean my interests are broad and I love that such a rich variety of material comes over my virtual desk. I enjoy seeing the diversity of what people are doing, and the breadth of inquiry pursued to develop nursing.

4. What makes JAN unique?
Quality: the quality of the content published and the quality of the pre-publication process. I'm not just blowing the editors' trumpet here, although the whole team are focused on bringing out the best in good work. JAN reviewers include the top researchers in nursing, their feedback is of great value (submitting my own first paper to JAN I was blown away by how much help I got) and the publishing house have a slick system that wastes no time getting you 'online early'.

5. What is your favourite paper published in JAN this year and why?
Of recent papers: Twigg DE, Geelhoed EA, Bremner AP, Duffield CM (2013) The economic benefits of increased levels of nursing care in the hospital setting jumped out at me.  Not because it is a perfect paper - it isn't; there are limitations to using routinely available data and making comparisons with retrospective data collected some years earlier. I like it because it shows nursing making a serious effort to understand the implications of changes to the way we work, to patients but also in economic terms.  I like it because it makes use of routinely available data - surely a cost-effective way to address issues where other approaches might accrue prohibitive costs, resulting in no research.

6. What advice would you give to an author?
I'm with Mark on this: the first job of a writer is to read. Read widely, and look for the nuts and bolts as well as the result. If you enjoy a piece of writing - ask yourself why? How did they get that result? I'm a great believer in 'less is more' (I love Thomas Hardy but skip whole chunks of landscape description, no matter how expressive!) and not wasting words in getting your message across. Good journalism can give you good examples of succinct writing, so look at how writing in other forms works too.

The second job of a writer is to write - it's a skill and you don't get better if you don't practice. The hard job is covering the page first time round; the first revision is easier than the first draft, and subsequent revisions are easier still. But it takes that first draft - every time!

7. What advice would you give to aspiring editors?
Read a lot, review a lot, write a lot, take every opportunity to hone your critical appraisal skills and keep up to speed with what's happening in your field. The reviewers provide content and methodological advice but an editor has to find the balance (often between outright reject and immediate accept!) and be able to differentiate the duds from the diamonds, spotting the pieces that with some (or a lot!) of polish will be well read and highly cited.

8. What annoys you most about poor manuscripts?
I'm with Mark again. JAN guidelines on manuscripts are there to help authors and readers; JAN requirements are designed to make it easier for authors to communicate the essentials of their work. So, when authors don't use them, it just seems like bad manners or laziness to me. One of our previous editors, Jacqui Fawcett, had a lovely line she used in this situation: 'Note that a mark of scholarship is adherence to the author guidelines for the journal to which the paper is submitted' - so true!

9. What are the main challenges for nursing in the next decade?
As our world changes, nursing needs to take forward the best of our past and present to embrace future opportunities. Population and nursing demographics are driving practice change and over the next decades our challenge is to hang on to core values and use them to create positive workplace cultures and environments where enhancing patient outcomes and experiences count equally with cost-benefit and quality is not compromised.

10. Who do you recommend to follow on Twitter?
I'm a Twitter novice; as anyone following me will have noticed, I haven't really got it yet. But I use other social media, and I will get round to Twitter - check back again in a couple of months and I'll tell you then.

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