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Writing The Biomedical Manuscript: A Systematic Approach

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Writing The Biomedical Manuscript: A Systematic Approach Christopher Dant Stanford Medical School Manuscript Writing Part I About writing and what makes a good paper ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Writing The Biomedical Manuscript: A Systematic Approach


1
Writing The Biomedical ManuscriptA Systematic
Approach
Christopher Dant Stanford Medical School
2
Manuscript Writing
  • Part I
  • About writing and what makes a good paper
  • Parts of a manuscript
  • Figures and tables
  • Writing strategies
  • Part II
  • Essentials of good writing
  • Sentences-Paragraphs
  • Common writing mistakes

3
Medical Communications Today
  • Medical science becoming increasing specialized
  • 1976 5,000 biomedical journals, only in
    libraries
  • 2006 gt17,000 biomedical journals, electronic on
    internet
  • Subspecialties and new vocabularies has increased
    dramatically over past 20 years
  • Biomedical research moving to interdisciplinary
    initiativesThe NIH Roadmap
  • Thus, readership increasingly specialized yet
    interdisciplinary, requiring an approach that is
    common, clear, simplified.
  • We must strive to make our articles increasingly
    reader friendly and cross-discipline in
    language
  • Dr. Jerome Kassirer, Former Editor, NEJM

4
A Recognized Problem
  • There is no form of prose more difficult to
    understand and more tedious to read than the
    average scientific paper!

-Dr. Francis Crick, 1994The Astonishing
Hypothesis
5
The Avoidable Downfall
  • Your research
  • Carefully planned
  • Novel
  • Flawlessly designed and executed
  • Your paper
  • Poorly designed and writtenrejected or delayed
  • The loss or delay of disseminating important
    critical information to the science community

6
Journal Editors Agree
  • Good writing signals clear thinking and an
    organized approach
  • Clear direct English and logical, cohesive,
    organized writing are key to acceptance
  • Even the most novel and well-constructed study
    will be rejected if the writing is flawed

7
Writing is an Essential Skill
  • The ability to communicate clearly and precisely
    through the written word is an essential skill
    for medical researchers
  • Delayed publications and denial of funding
    because of poorly written manuscripts and grants
    continues to plague researchers
  • The career of a researcher can depend heavily on
    this skill

8
Key Difficulties
  • Many papers are poorly constructed and written
  • Some scientists have not learned good manuscript
    writing techniques
  • Others do not enjoy writing, and do not take the
    time or effort to ensure that the prose is clear
    and logical.
  • Authors are typically so familiar with the
    material that it is difficult to step back and
    view it from the point of view of a reader not
    familiar with the science
  • Peer review is therefore critical

9
Manuscript Deficiencies
  • 57 articles evaluated to Emerg Med28 accepted,
    29 rejected/pending
  • Of these 29
  • Ambiguous methods 77
  • Ambiguous results 68
  • Conclusions not warranted by data 72
  • Poor referencing 56
  • Inadequate study design description 51
  • Unclear tables 49
  • Overly long discussion 49
  • Inadequate definition of terms 49
  • Deficiencies in manuscript preparation are more
    frequent than mistakes in study design and
    execution. Specific trainingin manuscript
    preparation is indicated.
  • Taylor and Brown, Emerg Med 13(4)444-50, 2001

10
Top 10 Reasons Manuscripts Rejected
Avoidable
  • Wrong journal, format, preparation
  • Disorganized study design
  • Defective tables, figures
  • Poor organization throughout, writing, spelling
  • No hypothesis or problem statement
  • No or insufficient conclusion
  • Overinterpretation of results
  • Article unfocused, too verbose and long
  • Inappropriate statistical methods methods not
    sufficient to repeat study
  • Poorly written abstract/title

Pierson DJ, Respiratory Care 49(10), 2004
Byrne DW, Publishing Medical Research Papers,
Williams and Wilkins, 1998
11
The Paper
  • Writing and editing the paper is the last step in
    the research process
  • The paper tells the story from study inception,
    through data collection, statistical analysis,
    findings and and discussion
  • The process of writing the paper should be
    analogous to the research processit requires
    attention to detail, time, and revision

12
Manuscript Reviews
Editor Title Abstract Headings References Tables
/Figures Read Through
Appropriate to journal? Conform to guidelines?
Editor Reports Summary of peer reviews Summary of
editors review
13
Start with Outline
  • Outline each segment of the paper using
    traditional outline I, II, III, A, B, 1, 2, a
  • Forces logical thought and order
  • Eliminates unorganized thinking and writing
  • Uncovers flaws in arguments
  • Reduces wordiness
  • Makes writing easier
  • Include your draft figures, tables

14
Outline
  • Introduction
  • Zinc plays a critical role in biochemical
    functions in cells
  • Mitochondrial function (Billings)
  • Cell motility (Jones, Smith)
  • Zn concentrations affected by physiological
    changes in pregnancy (Billings)
  • Zn deficiency increases spontaneous abortions and
    pregnancy complications
  • Rhesus monkeys (Putter)
  • White rats (Michaels, Reiss)
  • In humans, the role of Zn deficiency in pregnancy
    outcome is unclear (Brown)
  • Objective we evaluated whether Zn
    supplementation during pregnancy is associated
    with changes in birth outcomes.

15
Journal Editor Whats A Good Manuscript?
  • Title descriptive and specific
  • Abstract descriptive, specific, and correct
    length
  • Introduction and background short and strong
  • Research question clearly stated
  • Literature cited is comprehensive and relevant
  • Methods descriptive enough to be replicated
    appropriate statistical analyses
  • Figures and Tables stand on their own, support
    conclusions, well constructed
  • Citations relevant to topic
  • Discussion within boundaries of findings
    demonstrate how findings have helped resolve
    stated problem implications and future work
    addressed
  • Writing clear, terse, logical
  • Manuscript follows journal guidelines

16
The Title
17
The Title
  • First reviewed by Journal Editors before abstract
  • Short
  • Specific, Relevant, Descriptive
  • Write lastyour findings and conclusions may
    alter your title

18
Title Ask Yourself
  • What is the single most important point of this
    study?
  • How would I tell my colleague, in one short
    descriptive sentence
  • whats this study about?
  • A descriptive, specific title perfectly framing
    your study will be apparent only after youve
    written the paper and abstract.
  • Start with a short descriptive working title

19
Unnecessary Title Phrases
  • A Study of A Study to Determine Results of
  • An Innovative Method
  • Contributions to (of)
  • Investigations on (concerning, about)
  • Observations on
  • A Trial Comparing

20
TitleSpecific Descriptive
  • A Study Involving Medical Imaging with Genetic
    Patients and Turners Syndrome
  • MRI Brain Imaging in Children With Turners
    Syndrome and Other X Chromosome Abnormalities
  • Nerve Growth Factors and Sodium Channels in
    Pancreatic Cells
  • Nerve Growth Factor Increases Sodium Channel
    Expression in Pancreatic (Beta) Cells
    Implications for Insulin Secretion

21
TitleSpecific Descriptive
  • Down SyndromeWhere we are today A Review
  • Down Syndrome Genetic, Behavior, and Functional
    Neuroimaging Research 2000-2006
  • Aldosterone and Heart Failure
  • Aldosterone Plasma Concentrations Increase with
    Severity of Congestive Heart Failure
  • A study of MI in older Americans 1994-1999
  • Epidemiological survey of MI in
    Community-Dwelling American Males Over 65 years
  • Lazarus arise! Life and Death Issues in Intensive
    Care
  • End-of-Life Care Issues for Critically Ill
    Patients in Intensive Care Hospitals

22
TitleSpecific Descriptive
  • Hepatitis C virus associated membranoproliferative
    glomerulonephritis A tale of Mice and Men
  • Membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis
    Associated with Hepatitis C Virus in F39(b) Nude
    Mice Applicability to Humans
  • Isolated unilateral tubular sclerosis-associated
    severe late-stage renal cystic disease in
    neonates
  • Severe, Late-Stage Renal Cystic Disease in
    Neonates Associated with Isolated Unilateral
    Tubular Sclerosis
  • Drug trial comparing systemic beta blocker with
    calcium-channel blocker in CHF
  • Open-label Comparison of Altenolol and
    Propranolol versus Nifedipine in Patients with
    CHF Beta Blocker and Calcium-Channel Blocker
    Mechanisms

23
Dont Stack Adjectives
  • Female but not male serotonin reuptake
    transporter (5-HTT) model knockout mice exhibit
    bladder instability Implications
  • 5-HTT female (not male) knockout mice have
    unstable bladders Implications for Stress
    Urinary Incontinence Treatment

24
Good TitlesSentences
  • Intellectual impairments occur in children with
    blood lead concentrations above 10 mg per
    deciliter
  • Increased 17b-estradiol suppresses PTHrP gene
    expression in breast cancer cell lines
  • Spinal cord stimulation attenuates visceromotor
    reflexes in a rat model of post-inflammatory
    colonic hypersensitivity
  • Rhinovirus challenge decreases antioxidant
    enzymes in respiratory epithelial cells

25
Not Sentences But Good Titles
  • Comparison of MRI and CT for Detection of Acute
    Intracerebral Hemorrhage
  • Extracranial Thrombotically Active Carotid Plaque
    as a Risk for Ischemic Stroke
  • Annual Revaccination Against Influenza and
    Mortality Risk in Community-Dwelling Elderly
    Persons
  • Effect of Antihypertensive Agents on
    Cardiovascular Events in Patients With Coronary
    Disease and Normal Blood Pressure. The CAMELOT
    Study A Randomized Controlled Trial

26
The Abstract
27
The Abstract
  • 1st Impression to journal editor and the reader!
  • Follow the Journals Guidelines
  • Most abstracts are often too long 250 words
    Cannot upload your paper!
  • Structure it (outline it)
  • The abstract is the single most important part
    of a manuscript, yet the most often poorly
    written -JAMA Editor

28
The Abstract
  • First looked at by editors/sometimes only thing
    read by readers
  • Sometimes only part available electronicallyKEY
    words!
  • Summarizes the main points succinctly
  • Background/Significance
  • Objective
  • Study design, method
  • Primary germane results
  • Principal conclusions, implications
  • Do NOT be vaguebe substantive and brief
  • NOT The implications are summarized
  • INSTEAD Summarize the implications!

29
Abstract
  • Emphasize methods, main results, and conclusion
  • Introduction/purpose 1 short sentence
  • Put objective as imperative style
  • Objective To evaluate whether zinc
    supplementation during pregnancy affects infant
    birth measures.
  • Methods, Results 2-4 sentences
  • Conclusion 1-2 sentences

30
Structured Abstract
  • ContextSummarize the study rationale and provide
    clinical (or other) reason for the study
    question.
  • ObjectiveState the purpose or question asked. If
    more than one objective, state primary objective
    and key secondary objectives.
  • DesignDescribe basic design, including relevant
    details.
  • SettingGeneral community, primary care,
    hospital, etc.
  • Patient or other populationdescribe
    demographics, disorders, inclusion/exclusion
    criteria, etc.
  • Interventionsname, dose, dosage
  • Main outcome measure(s)
  • Results
  • Conclusions

31
The Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Pregnancy
Outcome
  • ObjectiveTo evaluate whether zinc
    supplementation during pregnancy affects infant
    birth measures.
  • DesignRandomized, double-blind,
    placebo-controlled trial.
  • SettingOutpatient clinic at University of
    Alabama at Birmingham.
  • Patients580 healthy African-American pregnant
    women with plasma zinc levels below normal
    levels, randomized at 19 weeks gestational age
    and divided by median body mass of 26 kg/m2 into
    placebo and zinc supplement groups.
  • InterventionWomen receiving a non-zinc-containing
    prenatal vitamin tablet were randomized to 25
    mg/day zinc or placebo.
  • Outcome MeasuresBirth weight, gestational age at
    birth, head circumference at birth.
  • ResultsInfants from zinc supplement group had
    greater birth weight (plt0.01) and head
    circumference (p0.02) than those in placebo
    group. Women with body mass 26 kg/m2 had
    infants with significantly higher birth weights
    (median 245 g, plt0.001) and larger head
    circumference (median 0.7 cm, p0.003).
  • ConclusionsDaily zinc supplementation in women
    with low plasma zinc concentrations in early
    pregnancy is associated with greater birth
    weights and head circumferences, with the effect
    occurring in women with body mass index 26
    kg/m2. The specific effects of zinc on the fetus
    are unknown, and future work is focusing on zinc
    effects on embryonic cells in vitro.
  • 192 words

32
Abstract Be Specific
  • The principles of reconstruction of the traumatic
    losses of the external ear are presented, with
    emphasis on effective treatment of the acutely
    injured ear. The steps necessary for obtaining
    satisfactory reconstruction are discussed,
    including two new techniques.
  • In the past decade, advances in soft tissue
    surgical techniques have allowed surgeons to
    successfully reconstruct detached ears. We
    present two new surgical reconstruction
    techniques of the acutely injured detached ear.
    These include the use of local and distant
    tissues to obtain soft-tissue coverage, and the
    recent use of Silastic cartilage for structural
    support

33
The Introduction
34
Introduction
  • Why did you carry out this research? State the
    specific purpose or rationale for the study.
  • What is the existing state of knowledge of this
    topic? Synthesize information tracing the
    development of the problem and summarize its
    current stateie, the background. You ask (with
    citations)
  • Whats known?
  • Whats unknown?
  • What are the gaps in knowledge this study will
    fill?
  • What are you going to do and what do you expect
    to find?
  • State your hypothesis or question clearly
    (Objectives, Aims)
  • Give only strictly pertinent references.

35
Introduction
  • This is a vital part of your paperit convinces
    (or not) the reader whether your study
  • Has merit and asks important research questions
  • Is focused and supported by relevant recent
    citations
  • Is ultimately important to human health and human
    disease
  • Reviewers and editors will judge the papers
    importance in the introduction.
  • You will better focus your introduction AFTER you
    construct your findings (results) and consider
    them (discussion).
  • Your research question is the most important
    partin your discussion, you will address whether
    the question or hypothesis was answered based on
    your data.

36
Introduction Structure
  • What is the general problem or current situation?
  • Zinc plays a critical role in many biochemical
    functions, including nucleic acid metabolism and
    is critical in early development.
  • What is the specific problem or controversy? Its
    significance?
  • Zinc deficiency is associated with increase
    metabolic problems in fetuses. Studies evaluating
    relationship between zinc intake and pregnancy
    outcomes have produced conflicting results for
    many reasons
  • What are our hypotheses/questions, and how will
    we answer them?
  • To clarify the relationship between zinc levels
    in the mothers diet and pregnancy outcomes, we
    undertook a randomized placebo-controlled trial
    of zinc supplementation.
  • Our objective was to determine if zinc
    supplementation was associated with higher birth
    weight.
  • Our findings will help to provide continuing
    nutritional guidelines in pregnancy.

37
The Methods
38
Methods are Critical Editors Responses
What section contains the most flaws?
What section responsible for outright rejection?
Discussion
Discussion
Results
Results
Methods
Methods
Introduction
Introduction
Byrne DW, Publishing Medical Research Papers,
Williams and Wilkins, 1998
39
Methods
  • Editors judge the study on whether your methods
    are adequate to answer your specific aim or
    hypothesis
  • Rationale for choosing procedures/tests
  • The pivotal point to judge whether the results
    are valid
  • Dont suggest a method you have no expertise with
  • Your peer reviewer may uncover this
  • Use consultants for methods you have no
    experience with, stating this in paper
  • Methods usually the weakest section
  • Often deficient in detail, not providing enough
    information to replicate the study
  • Statistical shortcomings

40
Methods
  • Study design or analysis type and period of study
  • Condition or disease studied
  • Human subjects approval
  • Details of sample (number, recruiting methods of
    study subjects, patients, how organized)
  • Interventions, outcome measures, statistical
    analyses
  • Include the locations and times that data were
    collected
  • Give enough information to replicate the study
    dont assume only the specialist in your field
    will read it

41
Methods
  • Balance between brevity and completeness
  • Sometimes reference an often-used method
  • Use figures and tables (eg, flow diagram)
  • Naming thingsbe consistent
  • Acronymsspell out first time, use consistently
    throughout
  • Specialized tests, termsuse identical name in
    text, figs, tables
  • Develop list of frequently used terms
  • Present in logical order and your subsequent
    results should follow that same order

42
MethodProcedures
Method diagrams communicate schedule of
procedures, enrollment, study design, mechanisms
of action, guidelines, algorithms to reduce text
and increase comprehension.
43
The Results
44
ResultsThe Beginning
  • The heart of your paper
  • Write after figures and tables are constructed
  • Consider your data critically
  • Construct tables, figures and include them in
    outline
  • Write the results
  • Use subheadings
  • Results determine
  • Whether youve answered your original question(s)
  • Your direction for future studies
  • Both of which belong in the discussion

45
ResultsThe Beginning
  • State ALL the findings
  • Whether significant or not
  • Without bias or interpretation
  • Do not include weaknesses, strengths of study, ie
    dont discuss results
  • List experiments in order listed in methods
  • Use logical headers and group your findings
  • Characteristics of study subjects
  • Findings in order listed in methods
  • General to specific
  • Use past tense
  • Results confirm or reject your hypothesis they
    do not prove anything.

46
Results
  • Short and to the pointMain or most important
    findings first
  • Present only data directly relevant to the
    studyfocus
  • Dont repeat methods but you may remind the
    reader briefly how you measured something.
  • Allow the data to speak for itselfuse
    tables/figures construct them first and use as a
    basis for writing
  • In Tables and Figures, be descriptive, specific.
    Do not repeat the obvious
  • NO Results of the kidney lead analysis are shown
    in Table 1.
  • YES Kidney lead concentrations increased in
    group 1 over the first 10 study weeks (Table 1).
  • Present absolute numbers and percentages so
    reviewers can judge the significance of the
    findings.
  • Statistical significance ? clinical significance

47
Results or Data?
  • Results
  • Mean translational movements in the X (left to
    right), Y (back to front) and Z (bottom to top)
    head directions were 0.10 0.11 mm, 0.16 0.03
    mm, and 0.65 0.58 mm, respectively. Mean
    rotational movements about the three axes were
    0.44 0.42 degrees, 0.24 0.26 degrees, and
    0.18 0.17 degrees, respectively. Movement was
    not significantly correlated with age for
    translation in the X (r -0.09 p 0.69), Y (r
    0.21 p 0.35) or Z (r -1.02 p 0.64)
    directions. Movement was not significantly
    correlated with age for rotation in the X (r
    0.15 p 0.51), Y (r -0.20 p 0.35) or Z (r
    0.02 p 0.94) directions.

48
Results!
49
ResultsDont Regurgitate Data
  • As shown in Table 1, the mean age of participants
    was 20.4 2 years, and 80 of patients were
    Caucasian. Treatment group contained 40 patients,
    whereas control group contained 45 patients.
    Table 2 shows the demographics of women in these
    groups. There were 24 women in the control group,
    and 33 women in the treatment group...
  • There were no significant differences in
    treatment and control patient intake demographics
    (Table 1), although a significantly greater
    number of patients in the treatment group dropped
    from the study for a variety of reasons, mostly
    relating to adverse reactions. However, analysis
    of patients in this group later revealed that
    those dropped patients had significant disease at
    intake (Table 2). In comparing the two treatment
    groups (Figure 1), we found that...

50
Dont State the Obvious
Figure 1 is a graph illustrating the plasma zinc
levels (µmoL/L) over the 37 weeks versus
gestational age in both the zinc supplement group
and placebo group. The placebo and the zinc group
both decreased over the 37 weeks of the study,
but the differences were significant for the zinc
group.
51
State Whats Important
We measured mothers plasma zinc levels before
randomization (week 19) and at 26, 32, and 37
weeks gestational age (Fig 1). Beginning as
early as 26 weeks and at each timepoint,
differences in plasma zinc levels between placebo
and zinc supplement groups were statistically
significant (P0.05) after randomization.
52
ResultsMajor Mistakes
  • Failure to provide all the data critical to
    answering the research question
  • Interpreting or commenting on results
  • Six of the 20 patients required intubation,
    illustrating the seriousness of this problem
    (belongs in Discussion)
  • Over 40 of treated rats exhibited a decreased
    inflammatory response, an unexpected finding
    (belongs in Discussion)
  • Failure to adequately address statistical methods
  • Tables and figures inappropriate, unbalanced
  • Tables and figures poorly constructed

53
The Discussion
54
Discussion Construction
  • Summarize major findings1st paragraph
  • Explain how your findings relate to those of
    otherswhat do they mean?
  • Clinical relevance of the findings?
  • Limitations and how this influenced your study?
  • How will you overcome these in the next studies?
  • Explain the implications of findings
  • What future direction(s) will you take?

55
Discussion Getting Carried Away
  • Few studies make discoveries changing the course
    of scientific direction, and so authors
  • Attempt to overly state or the importance of
    their findings
  • Come to erroneous or unsupported conclusions
  • Uncritically accept statistical results
  • This all distracts from works importance and
    signals to the reviewer problems with the
    research
  • Also results in excessive length, a common
    problem
  • Authors should let the data speak for themselves

56
DiscussionCommon Mistakes
  • Unwarranted speculations
  • Injecting tangential issues
  • Conclusions not supported by the data
  • Not suggesting future directions for research
  • hypothesis Ô study Ô data/results Ô conclusions
  • TIGHT PACKAGE

57
Sections Unbalanced
Article 3650 words
58
Tables Figures
59
Tables and Figures
  • Critical to a paperEditors and readers look at
    these before reading the paper!
  • Editors judge your paper on how well these are
    constructed
  • Stand alone and tell a complete story
  • Unambiguousimmediately clear
  • Eliminate numerical data and long explanations in
    text
  • Figures display important trends, procedures,
    simplify detailed data, and show basic
    methodologies.

60
Tables
This requires a table!
61
Tables
This result does NOT require a table!
Growth medium aeration was essential for the
growth of S. coelicolor. At room temperature
(24C), no growth was measurable in stationary
cultures, whereas in aerated cultures, we
measured substantial growth (78 Klett units).
62
Tables Result
In women with BMI lt26 kg/m2, zinc supplementation
was associated with a significant increase in
birth weight of 248 g (P0.005), an increase in
head circumference of 0.7 cm (P0.005), and
increase in arm length of 0.3 cm (P0.03). The
other outcome measures all favored the zinc
supplement group but the differences were not
statistically significant (Table 2).
63
Table Result
Table 3 shows the mean birth weight by the BMI
categories recommended by the NIH Institute of
Medicine. The lower the BMI, the greater the
effect of zinc supplementation on birth weight.
64
Patient Disposition (Results)
Complex Study Design Simplified
65
Bar or Line Graphs-Colors?
This graph will
appear in the journal like this
  • Journals DO NOT allow color graphs unless they
    are necessary for understanding the graph

66
Simple Graph
  • Use graphing software in word/powerpoint to
    create KISS
  • No more than 3-4 groups
  • Keep all lines solid, few symbols
  • Put in SD and P values if relevant

67
From The Journal Editors Perspective
68
Prepare Your Manuscript Carefully
  • Incorrect style irritates reviewers and editors,
    and the wrong style suggests that another journal
    previously rejected the paper.
  • Edit carefully
  • Eliminate spelling, punctuation, and grammar
    errors
  • Good writing requires rewriting
  • Check accuracy of references with original
    sources
  • Incorrect citations inconvenience the publisher
    and are a disservice to the reader
  • Double-check numerical data!
  • Numbers in abstract, text, tables, figures,
    ledends, and text must be consistent and correct

69
Avoid Repetition
  • Do not disclose results in introduction
  • Do not repeat the Introduction in Discussion
  • In text
  • Do not repeat figure legends, table titles, or
    contents of the tables themselves
  • Use tables sparingly
  • Presenting a few facts in text takes less space
    than a table
  • Do not use tables for presenting simple lists
  • Abbreviations, definitions, symbols in figures
    and tables must be explained in legends and
    footnotes
  • Never refer a reader back to text for such
    information

70
Journal Review
  • Full review and decision takes 1 month
  • Editors make decision based on arguments they
    dont count votes from Peer Reviewers
  • Most papers undergo 2 rounds before publication
  • For borderline decisions, a goal is to avoid
    multiple rounds of review
  • Pressure to publish quickly may lead to rejection
    if further experiments are needed

71
What Helps or Hinders the Paper?
  • What Helps?
  • New data to a point
  • Referee or Editor made factual errors (easy to
    prove)
  • Careful and accurate response to criticisms
    (table)
  • Telling the editor that reviews were helpful in
    improving the paper
  • Knowing how to submit to the journal
    electronically Practice!
  • What Doesnt?
  • Referees were unfair and the criticisms were
    largely not valid
  • Guesses at referee identity followed by personal
    attacks
  • Specific evidence of bias by referee (difficult
    to prove)
  • Endorsements or (positive) statements about your
    standing and reputation

72
The Paper Is Cohesive
  • Question (objective, specific aim) is posed in
    Introduction
  • Methods tell how you propose to answer these aims
  • Results presented answer (or not) the question
  • Discussion should be within the bounds of the
    results
  • Conclusions directly answer the original
    questions in the Introduction
  • Each section should refer back to one another

73
Evaluate Your Paper
  • To understand and evaluate your paper, the editor
    will ask (and so should you)
  • What specific questions/aims does the paper
    address?
  • Are the methods/design adequate to answer your
    questions?
  • What are the main conclusions?
  • What specific evidence (data) supports those
    conclusions?
  • What is the quality of that evidence?
  • Conclusions what is the studys
    significancewhat insights or new directions are
    evident?

74
My Suggestions
  • Put the manuscript away for a couple of days
  • Read troublesome areas aloud
  • Dont try to edit a mangled paragraphdelete and
    rewrite it
  • Your colleagues reviews of writing and
    table/figures are valuabledont be defensive
    about edits
  • Let go of academic writing habits and dont
    imitate others writing. Develop your own clear,
    direct style

75
Writing Deficiencies
Most commonly cited by journal editors
  • Wordiness and redundancies
  • Poor flow of ideas
  • Poor syntax and grammar
  • Excessive abstraction
  • Unnecessary complexity
  • Excessive compression
  • Unnecessary qualification
  • Cut, condense, combine
  • Outline to catch logic problems
  • Consult an editor
  • Be specific and descriptive
  • Keep it simple and direct
  • Do not overly compress writing
  • Qualify statements as necessary

Byrne, D. Science Editor 232, 2000
76
Summary
  • Outline your paper
  • Start early as your data is being analyzed
  • Look at your data and decide how to organize and
    present your results tables, figures, text
  • Patterns and clues will emerge to guide your
    argument
  • Start with results then introduction and
    discussion/conclusions
  • Write title and abstract last
  • Put it away, re-read, give to your colleagues to
    read
  • Revise, revise, and re-revise
  • Adhere to journal guidelines!
  • Critically evaluate your paper with an editors
    eye
  • Write clearly, logically, and simply!
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