This issue I would like to revisit the topic of genres. I wrote about manuscript genres in a previous editorial in July 2013,1 but this is a topic I feel is worthy of another visit, Genres V2.0, so to speak. The term “genre” is applied to many things: music genre, literary genre, and of course scientific text genre. Interestingly, the word genre is derived from the French word “gender” meaning: “kind, sort, style, class or category.2”
When I research, or read up, on a topic, I often read many different types of scientific text genres: textbooks, scholarly publications (peer-reviewed), conference papers (sometimes peer-reviewed), government reports, theses (I read many), and sometimes grey literature. I think that most of us are familiar with the value that peer-reviewed papers, textbooks, conference proceedings, and theses provide. But let’s not forget the grey literature either. Grey literature often contains data that may or may not have been through a peer review, and hence, some critics of grey literature will question the validity of such data. But it is important to note that the grey literature can also add value to our scientific knowledge. Often, the term “grey literature” refers to information (an article) that is not easily or readily discoverable through traditional database searches, eg, some government reports that are available only through specific channels may not be “discoverable” through a Google-like search.
What are the genre families in peer-reviewed scholarly-academic writing and publications? To review, and in general, scholarly writing is information that results from an idea examined through a scientific method (quantitative or qualitative). Hence, scholarly publications present and use the evidence generated from that method to develop interpretations and conclusions. For the Journal of Swine Health and Production (JSHAP), the manuscript genre family includes a long list: original research, brief communication, production tool, literature review, peer-reviewed commentary, peer-reviewed diagnostic notes, peer-reviewed practice tip, case report, and case series. The author guidelines for JSHAP3 provides a brief overview of what should make up each of these different manuscript genres, and all manuscript genres submitted to JSHAP are peer-reviewed. As an author, being aware of the genre your scientific work best falls into can help you to format and present your data-information-story in a manuscript genre which will ideally result in a successful peer review and subsequent publication.
Let’s look at what is typically considered a “traditional” scientific manuscript which, for JSHAP, is the genre “original research.” Put simply, an original research manuscript should contain the following sections: a summary, introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, and implications. The data usually tests a hypothesis, may contain control subjects and blinded researchers (if the research is a clinical trial), is supported and designed on the basis of previous published data (unless of course, it is a pilot study), employs an appropriate study design that supports the research question and validity of the data generated, includes comprehensive statistical analysis considerations, and contains a discussion of interpretations and limitations of the data.
Why re-visit genres as a topic? Given that JSHAP has such a large genre family, I feel it important to remember myself, and to remind you as a reader, that genre is an important consideration when interpreting a paper. Interpretation and presentation of information in a manuscript can be different if the information is presented as original research versus a case report, for example. I encourage you to re-visit my previous editorial “Manuscript genres.”1 One of the great things I love about JSHAP is our long list of genre options. Not all manuscripts fit perfectly into one genre mold, and yet all can have valuable information to share with busy, practical practitioners such as yourself. The Journal of Swine Health and Production has broad options in which to present scientific information and yet maintains rigor by applying the peer-review process to all genre types. I feel fortunate that we (JSHAP enthusiasts) have these peer-reviewed genre options in which to present information that may otherwise not have been published outside of the grey literature.
I hope you enjoy this issue.
1. O’Sullivan T. Manuscript genres [editorial]. J Swine Health Prod. 2013;21:183.
2. English Oxford Online Dictionary. Available at https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/genre. Accessed 30 December 2016.
3. Journal of Swine Health and Production Author Guidelines. Available at https://www.aasv.org/shap/guidelines.pdf. Accessed 30 December 2016.
Terri O’Sullivan, DVM, PhD Executive Editor