On the Importance of Practitioners Publishing During and After COVID

by JP Leider, PhD


Literally every single day, in my newsfeed or in my email, new COVID-related papers show up. Most are clinical trials. The topics are varied and various, from all walks of life, across all sectors. We are seeing science work in real time. Papers are being put into preprint servers, some are published, some are retracted. New studies update what the best evidence shows. What is normally a process that settles up after the fact is being reconciled in real time, and in heretofore-unthinkable numbers.

More than a medical crisis, or even a social crisis, I tend to think of COVID first and foremost as a public health crisis. That means public health practitioners, working in and across federal, state, and local government — as well as non-profit and other locales — are at the forefront of response as much as any other occupation. Our field has much to learn from the folks on the front lines. But how will we get those messages? Though we have seen substantial COVID-focused publishing and some with practitioners voices – including from JPHMP – it seems like more can be done. In (an admittedly facile) informal search of COVID-19 + “health department” publications through Google Scholar & Publish or Perish, I am struck by how few are from practitioners.

There’s good reason for this. Practitioners are the ones who are responding, working incredibly long hours, and with modest public acclaim. As taxing and exhausting and demoralizing as this pandemic is, it’s the first time in a long time that people are hearing the voices of public health (whether they are listening to those voices is another matter entirely).

Publishing is how we move from anecdote to evidence. Multiple papers on a topic, with differences hashed out as rigorously as possible. But publishing itself is, well, weird. There are varying rules and norms, sometimes-blistering criticism (curse you, Reviewer #3!), and an awful lot of work. But perhaps it can just be weird, and not also a bad experience for practitioners? Enter a new effort from JPHMP Direct, the Region V Public Health Training Center, and the APHA Health Administration section.

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In concert with the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice/JPHMP Direct, the RVPHTC, and APHA’s Health Admin section, I am pleased to be collaborating with Justin Moore and other members of the JPHMP Editorial Board on a new webinar series, as well as a mentored project and “mini-boot camp,” aimed at offering insight into the publication process and helping groups of practitioners take their ideas from brainstorming to submission.

The four-part webinar series will focus on publishing as a public health practitioner. For practitioners who have been thinking about writing up their work and would like some guidance on how to navigate the morasses of peer-reviewed publishing, you can apply for the mentored project here

#1 – Introduction to publishing: currently scheduled for Jan. 13, 2021, at 2pm EST
Presenters: Paul Erwin and Ben Truman
Facilitated by: JP Leider
#2 – Topic, Outline, Background: currently scheduled for Feb. 3, 2021, at 2pm EST
Presenters: Ross Brownson and Cynthia Morrow
Facilitated by: Justin Moore
#3 – Methods and Results: currently scheduled for Feb. 24, 2021, at 2pm EST
Presenters: Valerie Yeager and Gulzar Shah
Facilitated by: Justin Moore
#4 – Discussion and Submission: currently scheduled for Mar. 17, 2021, at 2pm EST
Presenters: Les Beitsch and Oscar Alleyne
Facilitated by: JP Leider

Here’s a blurb on the series and boot camp from the Region V PHTC. Join us, won’t you?

Click the image to register!

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Dr. JP Leider

Jonathon P. (JP) Leider, PhD, is an independent consultant in the public health and health policy space, as well as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Minnesota and Associate Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has active projects and collaborations with foundations, national public health organizations, public health researchers and academics, and public health practitioners. His current projects focus on public health systems, the public health workforce, and public health finance. He holds a PhD in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. [Full bio]