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Implementation Science: A Key Journal for Implementation Researchers

Posted on December 2, 2011

Brian Mittman (bio) explains why the journal Implementation Science is a unique venue for publishing specialized articles relating specifically to implementation.


Prior to Implementation Science, there was a fair amount of volume of implementation science-related articles published, and they tended to be published in either the specialty journals, so the implementation researchers in mental health would publish in the major mental health journals, and so on. And there's still a fair amount of publication activity. A number of general medical journals, health services, health policy journals publish implementation-related articles on a regular basis. Many of those journals publish special issues on occasion, so Implementation Science does not have a monopoly on publications of the field, and that's as it should be.

So the venues did exist and continue to exist, but there's a sense of opportunities to publish highly specialized articles and articles that focus on methods and debates over methods, and other issues that don't have the same level of interest and relevance to the specialists and the content specialists. And those are the articles for which Implementation Science does represent a unique venue, and as a consequence, is making an important contribution.

I think the criteria for Implementation Science are changing somewhat as we try to cope with the increased submission volume. As an open access online journal, we don't face the page limits that other journals face. This has led to some discussions and policy decisions that, again, are changing slowly, but basically the key principle is that a contribution to knowledge in the field of implementation science, irrespective of the level of importance or significance, warrants publication. So for junior researchers and more senior researchers, smaller studies, studies that may not have the level of significance that would warrant publication in a print journal or a journal in a specialty area of medical care, we tend to be interested in those, again, to the extent that they represent a contribution of knowledge.

One of the tests that we apply is whether a study that is somewhat small or has some flaws represents the first or one of very few studies in a given area, and if so, we're more likely to publish despite some modest flaws. And I think that's something that both junior researchers should be aware of and take advantage of but more senior researchers and experienced researchers as well.

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Excerpted from interview with Dr. Mittman at the 2011 Global Implementation Conference in Washington, DC.


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