Spartan Medical Research Journal provides opportunities for scholarly activity


By: Julia Malacoff

There’s no shortage of academic journals out there, but in 2016, the founders for the Spartan Medical Research Journal, or SMRJ, realized there wasn’t a centralized place where MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine students, residents and faculty could publish original research.

Since then, the journal, which was founded by and is coordinated through the college’s Statewide Campus System, has been published approximately three times a year.

Over the past several years, publishing research has become even more important for osteopathic medical students and residents, as well as faculty. When the accrediting body changed from the American Osteopathic Association to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recently, a greater emphasis was placed on scholarly activity for both faculty and residents.

“When you’re talking about the next step for medical students, which is applying to residency, we’ve found that it’s a boon for them to have research experience,” said Sam Wisniewski, assistant editor of the SMRJ. “A way to certify that, in a sense, is to have a published peer-reviewed manuscript.”

The journal recently went through the PubMed certification process for PubMed Central, part of the National Library of Medicine, and was approved.

“In terms of students, residents and faculty producing scholarly works, if you're published, that’s good. But if you're published in a journal that's recognized by a body such as PubMed Central, that's even better,” Wisniewski explained.

This is especially relevant for certain specialties within medicine. For instance, there is an emphasis on being published in a PubMed-certified journal not only when applying to, but also while completing, surgically focused residencies.

Aside from the PubMed certification, there are a couple of other big advantages to publishing in the SMRJ. There are no submission fees, which makes the barrier to entry for submitting a paper significantly lower.

“A lot of the journals out there have submission fees that can be thousands of dollars,” Wisniewski said. “So, offering an affordable option that originates from our college is a great opportunity not just for students, but across the MSU community and beyond.”

There are also benefits to having a medical journal that’s focused on submissions from a specific region.

“Oftentimes, we receive manuscript submissions, whether more oriented towards research or quality improvement and patient safety, where the results are more applicable to the authors’ specific community-based health system,” Wisniewski said.

He added that this provides a resource for other community-based health systems in the state to reference for clinical practice as well as when designing their own research.

“While there are similarities and differences, there are usually a lot more similarities in terms of being part of a community-based health system in Michigan that they can draw from to develop their study. For example, items such as the electronic health record systems used to collect and pull data as well as navigating the process of acquiring administrative buy-in,” Wisniewski explained.

With the PubMed accreditation under their belt, it’s expected that the volume of submissions will increase.

As assistant editor for SMRJ, Wisniewski handles submission, publishing and methodological review along with Dr. Bill Corser, who serves as editor-in-chief. But the pair rely on clinicians who volunteer to assess the potential clinical value of a submission through the peer-review process.

“We get so much value from them to supplement our methodological knowledge,” Wisniewski said.

Now that the journal expects even more high-quality submissions, Wisniewski emphasized they’re on the lookout for new peer reviewers, not only from the clinical realms, but also across MSU’s health colleges.

“We want to recruit folks who have more ‘basic’ or core clinical science knowledge: biology, microbiology, infectious diseases, etcetera,” he said. “The more diverse pool of peer reviewers we have, the better we’re able to assess whether the question being asked is fundamentally worth pursuing, and if it’s being examined in a way that's going to add value to the scientific literature.”

The journal’s recently released issue, Volume 5, Issue 2, included articles on topics such as a food insecurity intervention in the age of COVID-19 and the examination of X-Ray and CT scans using data from some of the early COVID-19 patients in Italy.

If interested in submitting to the journal, please see:

To become a peer reviewer, contact the journal at