The time has come for me to start thinking about trying to write the first proper scientific journal article on my PhD journey. The mysterious and desirable peer reviewed scientific journal article. It is an important part of all researchers achievements. The number of articles and the journal they are published in seem to be a measure of your success. So starting with the number of articles, this will hopefully be my first. Right. Now journal…which journal….preferably a high impact journal…but really why?
Over the course of my clinical and (recent) research career I have really begun to understand how little other disciplines know about speech and language therapy. Of course everybody knows we work with children, and people who stammer….but beyond that? I have learnt to tell people that SLTs work on swallowing, language, conversation, social skills and cognitive areas beyond simply the single word. But that has often felt like a drop in the ocean. So we need to shout louder.
Indeed I recently surveyed SLTs across the UK on referral patterns and treatment practices with people with PPA (the language variant of dementia). SLTs reported massive barriers to people with with PPA accessing our services. One of the most commonly cited reasons- lack of understanding amongst referrers and patients themselves. Not only are health professionals, even those working in dementia, not always aware of what PPA is. Other health professionals often do not understand what SLTs do and thus frequently do not refer to us at all.
So in short; a high impact journal can reach a much wider audience who may not know what we do. Publishing an article about speech and language therapy for people with dementia in a journal read by neurologists, psychiatrists or GPs may reach an key audience. This is a group who can increase referrals to SLT. They are the gatekeepers between people with dementia and PPA, and SLT services. By promoting SLT to the gatekeepers I might have a direct impact on the lives of many people with PPA who could benefit from SLT services.