Terms of Reference
In Turkish, Hikâye roughly translates to a short story or a narrative describing real or designed events. Hikaye is CCIT's all-inclusive online platform with the primary purpose to disseminate written and/or visual narratives - prose, poetry, doodles, photographs, illustrations, or a combination thereof. It comprises a multi-purpose editorial board that reviews and edits blog posts for online publication.
- Components of the write-up (following points are suggestions; not meant to be rigid guidelines): interesting / meaningful title (10-12 words), body between 500-1000 words (additional tips in appendix below might facilitate neophytes). We will also consider submissions that are under 500 or over 1000 words, if they are well written stories/articles.
- Onus is on the contributor vis patient confidentiality and / or gaining prior (patient) consent [if the situation demands].
- Work must be original and the author's. Plagiarism will not be tole rated. Contributor's re-print from another blog (or else) is okay as long as original source is fully acknowledged.
- Contributor can provide photo(s) jpegs (no more than 2-3 per piece) to enhance the piece (as in photo-blogging) or the editorial board will provide something visually captivating (photos of nature, scenery, etc. which might not necessarily be relevant to the text, but are good 'neutral' scenes). Each piece will have some visual component.
- With each contribution, the contributor's photo and brief bio will be required. The reviewer / editor for that piece will also be acknowledged.
- New post (or a repost of a prior blog, especially from CCIT's archive of narrative medicine) will be published every fortnight.
APPENDIX: An Approach to Blog Writing/Narrative Medicine – the Writing Aspect; By Aeman Muneeb and Asad Mian
Narrative medicine or reflective writing in medicine recognizes the value of the patient's narrative in clinical practice, medical education, and research. Writing about patients and patient encounters creates a unique learning and teaching experience. It allows the processing of oneself and others, in terms of feelings and emotions. It reminds you that each patient is unique and need not be thought of simply as 'numbers' in terms of statistics, as is the case with clinical research papers. The feelings and emotions being processed through the writing allow empathy and compassion to be generated, acknowledged and nurtured.
We do not claim to be experts on narrative medicine 'criteria'. However, based on our own experiences of reading and writing reflectively in medicine, the following are a few suggestions.
- Keen observation is very important. Medicine is fast-paced so taking time to reflect on everyday happenings can make way for some very interesting narratives.
- Have a central 'message' that needs to come across without sounding didactic/academic, lecturing, holier than thou, etc. Think of this as a subtle point you'll be making to the reader by the manner in which you narrate the happenings.
- Honesty is important because it is difficult to pretend when you are writing. Sure you can but when you write about real things it shows.
- Be creative and purposeful in writing.
- Is the purpose to advocate for the patient and/or patient's family
- Or is the purpose to advocate for the medical team?
- Or is it both the above?
- Or neither of the above? Simply to write without any purpose? And that too is fine, as long as you have articulated that to yourself.
- However, writing with a purpose is more meaningful and impactful.
- Have a word limit in mind (say ~ 500-700 words or 1 page) if the objective is to write for a newspaper/blog. It is possible to write freely and shorten the length later on.
- Some will find it easier to just keep writing when in the mood. Sometimes you might be unable to write a paragraph and at other times you'll write 2000-3000 words in a sitting.
- Don't be too stringent about word limits, if you feel that is inhibiting. Fewer words make it easier to publish but someone would probably never write because of feeling 'limited'.
- The narrative's title is importan t ! Generate a brief, catchy, meaningful title (~10-12 words).
- Using hyphens / colons in titles can help truncate and make them more insightful.
- Titles should complement the write up and vice versa. This is only possible if the significance of the title is somehow explained in the text.
- Don't be overly regimental / task-list or criteria orientated as that tends to inhibit creativity in writing. However:
- Wr ite simply and in a conversational manner.
- Keep your audience in mind. Writing for a biomedical journal will be different from writing in a magazine even when narrating the same story.
- 'Talk' to the audience you have selected. Don't 'talk down' to them!
- One caveat: perhaps medical jargon can be used when writing for a medical audience? It may make communication better amongst medical people who speak a 'different' language altogether.
- Tie beginning of essay into ending and vice versa.
- Tell a complete story through your writing.
- Be humorous without being crass or disrespectful.
- Humor, other than being a strong defense mechanism, can be an exceedingly potent 'teaching' tool in writing.
- Have the ability to laugh at yourself or at the situation you find yourself in (with all due respect to the patient / family).
- Humor can make writing all the more satisfying for the writer. You learn to see things in a new, more detached perspective.
- One of the greatest benefits of humor comes to the writer. Taking a detached view and laughing at an unpleasant situation or a mistake can be helpful. It doesn't seem like as big a deal as it first did.
- Include a photo or 2 if possible ( not patient's ), but something visually captivating that might enhance the writing (as in photo-blogging).
- Patient confidentiality is important so refer to the patient in a way that he/she cannot be identified.
- Show the first few drafts to someone you feel really comfortable with, who will provide candid critical feedback about your writing. That can tremendously improve the quality of the work (coherence, grammar, syntax, etc.).
- Consider poetry/verse (or prose-poetry, even) as a means to narrate in medicine.
- Write a lot. Not all of it can be published. But the more you write the more chance of increasing the publishable material.
- Generate your footprint in narrative medicine.
- Consider starting your own blog.
- Consider publishing your work more extensively by sending articles to relevant biomedical journals or even newspapers (as blogs or op-eds).
- Over time enough material may be gathered to put together as your first book.
Wishing you all a happy writing journey!
Meet the Editorial Board:
Saniya Kamal, Associate editor. Graduate of AKU's class of 2018. She likes writing, photography, and making art.
Saman Gillani, Associate editor. Graduate of AKU's class of 2020. She enjoys painting in her free time, which is not too often.
Mehdia Nadeem Rajab Ali, Associate editor. Graduate of AKU's class of 2020. She believes she is too smart to "just" do medicine.
Maria Khan, Associate editor. Third year medical student at AKU Aspiring psychiatrist, in
love with nature.
Areeba Shakeel Ahmed, Web author. Engineering & Design Mentor in Residence, CCIT AKU. Enjoys working on creative blogs and website development.
Follow us at Hikaye and share your story! To submit your work, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional reading / references & examples :