Jun 1, 2018
AT Author
Timothy Neal

An experienced athletic trainer receives an e-mail requesting that they write an article about a topic they are familiar with. While the athletic trainer keeps up to date on current literature and regularly reads articles on the profession, they aren’t sure whether to submit the requested article. They’ve never published before and wonder what they could possibly contribute to the profession through an article.

There is much benefit to publishing as an athletic trainer. First, you can share your expertise based on your experiences and accomplishments for the reader to learn from. Secondly, you may introduce a new topic or a modification of an existing mode of care that may benefit the patient. You can also advocate action on a subject that would benefit athletic training or the method in caring for patients. Finally, you could even co-author an article with fellow athletic trainers for a rewarding experience.

I know firsthand the value of contributing to publications. I have been fortunate to write or co-author articles in the NATA News, NATA Sports Medicine Legal Digest, the International Journal of Athletic Therapy & Training, College Athletics and the Law, and this newsletter. Further, I have learned a great deal about writing as a member of the NATA Athletic Training Education Journal editorial board and as a manuscript reviewer for the NATA Journal of Athletic Training.

Let me share just a few things I have learned that may help the next athletic trainer author contribute to our profession through publishing an article:

  • Read as many journal articles as possible. Becoming familiar with the style of writing for a professional journal is a good first step in preparing to author an article for that publication.
  • Volunteer to write an article. You may have an area of expertise or insight that may be of benefit to our profession, so step forward and submit a manuscript to a journal or offer to write an article for a national or state athletic training publication.
  • Know the purpose or goal of your article. Again, you have something to contribute in enhancing the profession. Educating or advocating a position are two key areas for authors.
  • Organize your article into key points that flow, starting with a story or data that illustrates the need for the reader to consider your piece.
  • Use other authors for advice or editorial assistance. There are some gifted writers in athletic training. When tasked with chairing the NATA “Inter-Association Consensus Statement on Psychological Concerns in Collegiate Athletes” in 2012, I turned to good friends Ron Courson, MS, ATC, PT, Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Georgia, and Erik Swartz, PhD, ATC, Professor and Department Chair of Athletic Training at the University of New Hampshire, both of whom have chaired past NATA statements. They provided me with excellent guidance on establishing goals, making assignments to the writing group, organizing the topics, and adhering to the writing style of previous NATA statements.
  • It may be helpful to send your first draft to an athletic trainer who has published for feedback prior to final submission to the publisher. Having someone else read your article is a helpful exercise in fine-tuning the final product.
  • Editors and peer-reviewers are great to work with. I am fortunate to work with outstanding editors at the NATA Journal of Athletic Training and the Athletic Training Education Journal who assist authors with their manuscripts.
  • Not all article or journal submissions are accepted, so if your first attempt is not approved, work with the editor and reviewers to modify your manuscript as applicable. Do not get discouraged. Becoming published is a learning process.
  • When citing your references, use whatever style is preferred by the publisher.

There are many accomplished athletic training professionals who provide high-quality care to patients in every setting. It would enhance the profession if these athletic trainers would share their expertise or insights through publishing articles.


Timothy Neal, MS, AT, ATC, CCISM, is Assistant Professor and Program Director of Athletic Training Education at Concordia University Ann Arbor. Previously, he spent more than 30 years at Syracuse University, serving in a variety of sports medicine roles. Neal is also a member of the Ohio University Alumni Association Board of Directors. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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