A Systematic Road to Publication – Emmet Crowley

In this blog, I hope I can shed light on the publication process by outlining my experiences and what I learnt, along the way, from this experience. My first publication “The Impact of Resistance Training to Swimming Performance: A Systematic Review”, has been recently accepted for publication in Sports Medicine.

During the final year of my undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences, at the University of Limerick, I had to undertake a final year project. During this year, I also had serious sporting commitments and felt that the most achievable project, for me, would be a systematic review. With the help and guidance of Dr Mark Lyons, I wrote a systematic review on “Resistance Training Interventions for High Performing Swimmers”. This would be the basis for my now accepted systematic review, over two years later, and my PhD project. During the summer of 2015, I approached my now PhD supervisor team of Dr Mark Lyons and Prof Drew Harrison on the prospects of doing a PhD on the transfer of dry-land resistance training to swimming performance. Once my proposed course of research was established I began my PhD in January of 2016, thanks to an EU Fee Waiver. I was conscious that my FYP would be closely aligned to my potential PhD proposal, as I was witnessing my close friend and fellow PhD student Cormac Powell undertake a PhD. I began to re – write my FYP and through a series of reformatting, I submitted for publication, in Sports Medicine, in August 2016. I choose this journal as it aims at both the scientific and applied community while focusing on the interpretation and evaluation of the literature, to provide impactful and practical conclusions.

In October of 2016 I received an email stating that my manuscript was under review and I would shortly be receiving revisions from the editor in chief and three reviewers. The review process is something that I feel receives a lot of negative media but my positive experience is worth sharing. Initially my review consisted of an in-depth analysis of 14 studies, the methodological qualities of the studies, strength diagnostics used within the studies and of course the outcome measures; stroke length, stroke rate and swimming performance were discussed. During the first revision process the reviewers recommended that I provide significantly more detail throughout the paper. The primary requests from the reviewers were; further discussion of the physiological and biomechanical mechanisms and the methods of attaining stroke length and stroke rate measures. Second revisions required me to make further changes. The primary request this time round was to include a section on “Concurrent Training” with minor amendments to do with phraseology and the inclusion of methodological limitations of the papers throughout the discussion section. These revisions were much more challenging and required extensive research into concurrent training, along with inserting methodological limitations throughout. Even though this was difficult, my paper became more robust and most importantly very informative for both academics and practitioners alike. These revisions made my paper evolve into a multi-disciplinary article which is crucial in the world of elite sport.

In April 2017 I was notified that my manuscript had been accepted for publication. Since then I have proofed the paper and corrected the revised proofs. This review process highlighted three key qualities to me; procrastination, external feedback and patience. Procrastination is the avoidance of tasks but for me resulted in greater creativity and quality in other tasks. On particular days, I liked to graft (i.e. extracting information from papers into table format, etc.) which gave me a sense of accomplishment. Whereas other days I enjoyed writing, essentially embrace the procrastination process! External feedback is essential and this is what the review process is. The more extensive and concise the paper is before the reviewers review the paper the greater feedback you will receive. Ultimately, criticising your own work, as well as getting someone else to critique, outside of your supervisory team, will produce a much more insightful paper. Patience during the writing process will result in fewer mistakes down the line and will result in a more extensive and exhaustive research article. I think I may have taken this too literally as between all the stages of my manuscript I produced 29 drafts!

I hope that my story helps future early career researchers and provides a valuable insight into the publication process.

For Further Information:

  • View Emmet’s Article “The Impact of Resistance Training to Swimming Performance: A Systematic Review” Here!
  • Emmet Crowley is a postgraduate student in the PESS Department. View Emmet’s Profile here.

Emmet’s Email Address: emmet.crowley@ul.ie
Emmet’s Twitter: @EmmetCrowley

Tagged with: