I am always curious about how it is possible to spend ages thinking about and writing some papers that barely see the light of day after they are published, only to find that others just seem to write themselves and then turn out to be ten times more popular! When you look at the contents of those that reach the top echelons of the search rankings, though, it’s not always rocket science to figure out why this might be…
I discovered by accident this week that a two-part article written more than ten years ago and offering instructions, tips and tricks on how to use a Pinard to listen to the fetal heart, is one of the most popular of those that I have ever uploaded. (If you haven’t seen this article and would like to, you can read the first part (Pinard Wisdom Part 1) here and the second part (Pinard Wisdom Part 2) here.) I recall that this article knitted up relatively quickly, and it is certainly amongst those that I have most enjoyed writing, because I decided I needed to seek input from friends in order to collect as many ideas, tips and perspectives as possible.
The project came about as a response to a request from some of the midwifery students that I was teaching at the time. These students were very keen to learn to use their pinards in practice but, for all sorts of reasons, some were really struggling to find the kind of support, knowledge and information they felt they needed in order to do this. I still remember being really surprised to discover that there was almost nothing in the midwifery literature or textbooks for those interested in learning this skill, and I’m sure this is the main reason that the articles have become so popular.
So, if you want to write a birth-related article that still gets cited ten years later, maybe it’s worth finding a skill that people want to learn but that hasn’t been described much in writing, then inviting your friends to help you put something together! Although I will admit that the thing that makes me happiest about the ongoing popularity of this article has nothing to do with the fact that I wrote it, and everything to do with the way in which it illustrates that there remains a need and a passion for us to learn the low-tech, gentle skills and knowledge that have been passed down for generations.