How to write a commentary—an editor’s perspective
- Andrew Jull, RN, MA
- Co-Editor, Evidence-Based Nursing Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland Auckland, New Zealand
Ever been trapped in the reader’s equivalent of Groundhog Day, stuck reading the same paragraph over and over? Some research papers can tie up the reader for unnecessary periods of time. Synoptic sources, such as Evidence-Based Nursing, reduce the effort needed to be well-informed by selecting high quality studies from a wide range of journals, abstracting the studies, and adding value with an expert commentary. A commentary is an extended note that sets forth an expert’s take on the meaning of a study. At issue is whether the evidence from the study or review is sufficient to inform practice. Any study or review offers only a provisional truth, and a commentary is always based on imperfect knowledge. While caution may be justified, practitioners still need to integrate the new knowledge. An expert commentary is an opportunity to help readers with the integration process. This Notebook aims to provide some useful pointers on writing commentaries for Evidence-Based Nursing.
In the halcyon days after completion of your thesis, you attended a conference on evidence-based practice and signed up to become a commentator for Evidence-Based Nursing. Now, 4 months later, you have received an email request from the journal inviting you to write a commentary for the first time. It seems like an easy opportunity to get published, but you feel some trepidation. Knowing that you could influence practice, you want to get it right and do a really good job, but how to proceed?
Commenting on an abstracted study may appear, at first glance, to be a relatively simple task. Evidence-Based Nursing commentaries are short, and experienced nurses are likely to have views on many subjects within their fields. But talking among a group of colleagues and writing are quite different activities.
The role of an EBN commentator …