Types of Articles
Opinion articles are a major component of many journals and may serve many purposes, such as addressing topics of interest to readers, serving as a forum for discussion and debate of controversial issues, presenting authoritative and informative commentary on timely topics, providing insight and context about other published articles, and communicating information about the journal or about important topics from the editors. By communicating and highlighting important issues, opinion articles impart timeliness and vibrancy to a journal. In general, to be most effective, opinion articles should be focused, present a logical argument, and be brief. As the focus decreases, as the argument becomes less compelling, and as the length increases, the level of reader interest in the opinion article will most likely decline.
For example, the JAMA Network journals publish several types of Opinion articles, such as Viewpoints, Editorials, and Invited Commentaries, as well as articles that present personal vignettes and reflections.
1.4.1 Viewpoints (Also Called Commentaries or Perspectives).
These articles may address virtually any important topic relevant to the readers of the journal and may involve issues in medicine, clinical care, public health, research, ethics, health policy, or health law. These articles generally are not linked to another specific concurrently published article and should be well focused, scholarly, and clearly presented. Dueling Viewpoints (or Point, Counterpoint articles) involve 2 scholarly opinion articles that address a controversial current topic of interest. The articles address the same question, with one article usually presenting the yes answer and the other presenting the no answer, thereby providing balance and insights on both sides of controversial topics.
1.4.2 Editorials (or Invited Commentaries).
Editorials represent important opinion articles in scientific journals and generally serve 2 primary purposes.3 Editorials written by the editor of the journal or a member of the editorial staff may communicate information about the journal or about journal policies or procedures or may present the views of the editors or editorial staff about an issue relevant to journal readers or about an article the journal has published. Editorials also may be written by authors who are not members of the editorial staff but who are invited to provide an authoritative discussion and opinion about an accompanying article or about another topic. In most cases, these invited Editorials (also referred to as Invited Commentaries in some journals) accompany research articles or other articles being published by the journal and ordinarily serve to provide balance, additional context, and caveats about the importance and implications of the accompanying article. At times, invited editorialists may be asked to comment on separate topics of interest to the journal readers or editors.
1.4.3 Personal Vignettes and Reflections.
Opinion articles based on personal experiences, anecdotes, or vignettes represent the importance of including narrative in scientific and biomedical journals and may be used to illustrate teaching points. For instance, most essays published as A Piece of My Mind articles in JAMA or as On My Mind articles in JAMA Pediatrics are based on personal vignettes that explore the dynamics of the patient-practitioner relationship and the wide-ranging experiences in medicine and health care or may express views and opinions about issues that affect the medical profession and other health care professionals. Articles published as Teachable Moments in JAMA Internal Medicine bring attention to the harms that can result from overuse of clinical care, such as with certain tests and treatments, and from underuse of needed clinical interventions.