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HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC PAPER

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HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC PAPER Walter A. Zin, MD, DSc Laboratory of Respiration Physiology Carlos Chagas Filho Institute of Biophysics Federal University of Rio de ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC PAPER


1
HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC PAPER
Walter A. Zin, MD, DSc
Laboratory of Respiration Physiology Carlos
Chagas Filho Institute of Biophysics Federal
University of Rio de Janeiro
2
What is a Scientific Paper ?
  • A scientific paper is a written and published
    report describing original research results

3
Writing a Research Paper
  • No single best way
  • Varies from paper to paper
  • Wait till data analyzed
  • Background reading
  • not too extensive
  • make notes make notes of notes
  • write down sentences or parts of them
  • not during writing time

4
Whom Writing For?
  • To please yourself?
  • Referees - to persuade the toughest one
  • Journal
  • - Choose before writing
  • - General vs. subespecialty journal

5
Whom Writing For?
  • Strategies to choose the journal
  • Where many of the papers cited were published?
  • Where do cited scientists publish their work?
  • Read the avertising statements of journals
  • Read the scope paragraph in the I for A
  • Read the table of contents of potential journals
  • Examine several articles in potential journals

6
Sequence
  • Fix realistic schedule (moderate)
  • Decision is final
  • Adherence foresees a good outcome
  • Figures, tracings, tables
  • Methods and Results
  • Discussion and Introduction
  • Abstract and Title

7
Structure
  • A good article has a definite structure, makes
    its point, and does not was space and time
  • The most difficult part in writing a scientific
    paper is planning its structure

8
Structure
  • Biggest problems come first
  • A scaffold of headings and subheadings
  • IMRAD each on a separate sheet
  • - In the first draft random order, telegraphic
    style
  • - Afterwards the ideas must be numbered and
    an order generated

9
Subheadings
  • Signposts to reader
  • Every paragraph in early drafts
  • Final version never over single paragraph
  • Hierarchy of sub-subs
  • Max of 3 for typographical distinction

10
Writing Tools
  • Dictionary, well-thumbed
  • Thesaurus
  • Synonyms, shades of meaning
  • Check every word
  • Pencil, pen, computer
  • Paper bin

11
Methods Section
  • Enough information for an experienced
    investigator to repeat your work
  • Avoid tiresome detail
  • Cut-and-paste from previous work of the
    author(s), not somebody elses
  • It is the first section of the paper in which
    subheadings should be used

12
Results Section
  • Refer to data (Fig. X, Table Y)
  • Dont repeat numbers in Tables
  • Can state numbers from Figures if precision is
    required
  • A lot of numbers, make Table

13
Introduction
  • 2-3 paragraphs, lt450 words
  • First paragraph
  • Introduce broad area
  • Second paragraph
  • Explicit rationale
  • Last paragraph
  • - Hypothesis

14
Discussion Section
  • First paragraph
  • State major findings
  • Paraphrase abstract
  • Last paragraph
  • In summary (2-3 sentences)
  • In conclusion (biggest mensage, return to
    Intro, avoid speculation, avoid need more work

15
Discussion Section
  • Middle paragraphs
  • Base each on a major result
  • Always focus on your results
  • Never discuss prior work without reference to
    your work
  • Refer Tables and Figures

16
Abstract
  • Précis writing
  • Informative, not descriptive
  • Some numbers, but not in excess
  • Determines if paper will be read
  • Is distributed freely in databases

17
Title
  • Max info in least words
  • lt12 words
  • lt100 characters
  • The title is a label
  • Should almost never contain abbreviations
  • Question easier to understand, more impact
  • State results

18
Figures
  • Do before writing
  • Redraw, redraw, prune clutter
  • Least non-data-ink
  • Max 4 lines, all solid
  • No caption
  • Reduce to 1 column in journal
  • Reduced xerox copy to check out
  • Original should be lt3x final

19
Figures
  • Axes
  • Minimize tick marks
  • Dont number each tick
  • Lettering
  • Uniform, lower case
  • Minimize, avoid bold
  • After reduction, 2-3 mm high
  • Legend
  • Gives message

20
Tables
  • Single unit, understood without text
  • Prune, prune columns, lines
  • Exceed 1 sheet redraw
  • Avoid narrow/broad rotate all 90o
  • No added vertical/horizontal lines
  • If small move data to text

21
Of Writing
  • At assigned time write (not read)
  • Dont wait for the muses
  • A craft, not an art practice
  • Ideas come while writing
  • Read good writers, especially non-medical

22
Momentum
  • Fix a schedule
  • Monitor progress
  • Write by a biological clock
  • One page a week torture
  • Skip trouble spots
  • Writers block unacceptable

23
Concentration
  • Need stretch of several hours
  • When time is short prepare, revise
  • Avoid distractions phone, beeper
  • Location
  • - Very boring area
  • - Nothing to distract

24
First Draft
  • Write as quickly as possible
  • As if thinking out loud
  • Get everything down
  • Ignore spelling, grammar, style
  • Skip troublesome words
  • Correct and rewrite only when the whole text is
    on paper
  • Do not split the manuscript among the co-authors

25
Good Writing
  • Content, accuracy
  • Clarity
  • Precision
  • Logic
  • Order of presentation

26
Clarity
  • Clear
  • Exact
  • Ambiguity, inconsistency
  • Wooly words
  • Concise
  • Least words
  • Short words
  • One word vs many

27
Simplify
a majority of most at the present time
now give rise to cause in some cases
sometimes is defined as is it is believed that
I think on the basis of by pooled together
pooled subsequent to after with the result that
so that
28
Use and Misuse of English
  • Tense
  • Previously published work present tense
  • Your own work past tense
  • Voice
  • Active more precise and less wordy than passive
  • Name the agent, even I or we
  • Singulars and plurals

29
Use and Misuse of English
  • Punctuation
  • Hyphens
  • Pile-ups of nouns or phrases
  • Numbers

30
Bad Writing
  • Words dont do justice to your ideas
  • If multiple mistakes in spelling and syntax,
    reviewer suspects similar sloppiness in the lab

31
Style
  • Clear, orderly presentation
  • Reads comfortably
  • Science vs literature

32
Writing
  • Reshape, refine, tighten up
  • Juggle words, change sentences around
  • Strengthen transition between sentences
  • Check narrative flow
  • After several drafts ask for a second opinion

33
Writing Clutter
  • All first drafs have too many words
  • Successive drafts prune vigorously
  • Strip every sentence
  • Look for excessive adverbs, adjectives
  • Writing improves in proportion to deletion of
    unnecessary words

34
WritingAbbreviations and Acronyms
  • Liked by authors, hated by readers
  • Reading should not require a glossary
  • Unwieldy word occurring gt 10 times

35
Writing Sentences
  • Only one idea in a sentence
  • Keep short lt20 words
  • Vary length
  • Long sentences greater risk of grammatical
    error

36
Writing Paragraph
  • The unit of thought in a group of sentences
  • Subheading over each one in early drafts
  • Not too long solid block of printing (lt125
    words)
  • Long paragraph bad

37
Writing Narrative Flow
  • Telling a story
  • Reader follows from start to end
  • Writing is sequential logic is the glue
  • Sentences hold hands
  • Smooth transitions
  • Every step is inevitable

38
Rewriting
  • Secret of writing is rewriting
  • Secret of rewriting is re-thinking

39
Typing
  • Clean
  • Wide margins (2.5 cm)
  • On one side of the sheet only
  • Adherence to the style of the journal
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread

40
Authorship
  • Decided as early as possible
  • Should include persons who
  • Can defend the intellectual content, including
    data and conclusions
  • Must be willing to concede publicly any errors
  • In the case of fraud be willing to state
    publicly the nature and extent, and account for
    its occurrence

41
Authorship Criteria
  • All the following criteria should be met
  • Generate at least part of the intellectual
    content (conception or design, data analysis
    and interpretation)
  • Drafting, reviewing or revising critically for
    important intellectual content
  • Final approval of the version to be published

42
Authorship Order
  • Some journals use the alphabetical order
  • Most of them assume an order based on each
    authors importance to the study
  • The first author is primarily responsible for
    collecting and analyzing data, and writing
  • The last one, an established investigator,
    assumes the overall responsibility for the study
  • The middle authors are listed according to their
    order of importance to the study

43
Authorship Responsibilities
  • The authors must comply with the following rules
    when submitting the manuscript for publication
  • The manuscript is not under consideration
    elsewhere and the research will not be submitted
    elsewhere until a final decision has been made
    by the journal
  • The manuscript is a trustful, original work
    without fabrication, fraud or plagiarism
  • The authors have made an important scientific
    contribution and are familiar with the primary
    data
  • The authors have read the manuscript and take
    responsibility for its content, and understand
    that if the paper, or part of it, is found to be
    faulty or fraudulent, they share responsibility

44
Authorship Conflict of Interest
  • All funding sources supporting the work and all
    institutional or corporate affiliations of the
    authors must be acknowledged
  • The authors must certify that they have no
    commercial association that might pose a
    conflict of interest in connection with the
    submitted paper

45
Benefits of Writing
  • Benefit greater to author than reader
  • Invaluable mental discipline
  • Enhances clear thinking
  • Making a subject intelligible to others means
    you understand it
  • Improve your reading skills
  • Satisfies a creative instinct

46
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