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Manuscript Writing

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  • 1. Organizing and Writing the Biomedical Paper UAMS Office of Grants and Scientific Publications Bill Ga bello Science Editor/ Writer October I3, 2006 GCRC Research Education Seminar
  • 2. Today’s Objectives E| Review the basic components of scientific papers. E| Offer some tips on developing a systematic approach to the tasks involved in preparing a manuscript for submission to a journal.
  • 3. Acknowledgments Cl Mallia M. Organizing the biomedical paper. In: Minick P, ed. Biomedical Communication: Selected AMWA Workshops. Bethesda, MD: American Medical Writers Association; 20012101-116. Cl Welch HG. Preparing manuscripts for submission to medical journals: the paper trail. Effective Clinical Practice, May/ June 1999. American College of Physicians Online.
  • 4. Before you start. ..
  • 5. Content Or Form? . .content transcends form in the selection of manuscripts for publication in Radiology. .. . [but] In the competition for selection among submissions of comparable scientific merit, papers prepared with greater care invariably receive a higher priority for publication. ” - Stanley 8. Siegelman, MD, Editor Radiology 1988;166:278-280
  • 6. Content Or Form? SELECTION OF MANUSCRIPTS FOR PUBLICATION fvcomparable Scientific Merit is Form > Content Outstanding Scientific Merit Content > Form Little Scientific Merit Content > Form
  • 7. Who Is an Author? C1 An author should have participated sufficiently to take public responsibility for the work’s content. C1 An author should have substantially contributed to the following: r~ conception and design, or analysis and interpretation of data r~ drafting of the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content r~ final approval of the version to be published. Cl All these conditions must be met.
  • 8. The First Step C| Se| ect a journal to which you intend to submit your paper. C| Familiarize yourself with its style and format. C'Make sure your paper is suitable for the intended journal. — E| Visit the journal's Web site. I- Read the Instructions to Authors and the journal's Editorial Policies.
  • 9. Getting Underway. ..
  • 10. Components of a Scientific Paper: AIMRaD EIAbstract D Introduction r- Why you did what you did U Methods (and Materials) L- What you did El Results r- What you found C! Discussion r- What it might mean
  • 11. High-Visibility Elements C'TitIe E| Abstract D Introduction C| Tables El Figures
  • 12. Title Cl Highest of high-visibility elements > Your first chance to stimulate interest > Editors look at first > Readers are most likely to look at or read Cl Give serious thought to wording of title > Follow guidelines in Instructions to Authors > Should accurately, specifically, and completely identify the central topic > Should introduce the key terms of the research question stated in the Introduction
  • 13. When/ W here to Start? E| Start early! C| Think about the main message Cl Write down the “key messages" or "take home points" C| Start with Methods C| Start with Introduction C| Start with Results
  • 14. Introduction: Purpose and Language C'Motivate your readers to care to know r- Why the work was done r- Why they should care C| Write a strong first sentence E| Repeat the key terms of the paper's title and the research question
  • 15. Introduction: Structure C'Structure it like a funnel or inverted pyramid r~ What is the general problem or current sfluafion? r~ What is the specific problem or controversy? r- How did this study help? CIKeep it short: one or two typed pages
  • 16. Methods and Materials C| Must give a clear overview of r- What was done r- How it was done C'Shou| d be thorough enough for the study to be reproduced C| Use subheadings to guide readers ElDescribe statistical analysis employed E| Write in past tense
  • 17. Results C| What were the findings? ElBe brief and to the point C| Use tables and figures to present data Clsigniflcance: report confidence intervals, standard deviations, and P values E| Write in past tense
  • 18. Discussion: Overview C| What do your findings mean? E'Describe the principles, relationships, and generalizations implied by the results C'Keep as short as possible, so readers grasp take-home message — E'Shou| d be organized with a beginning, a middle, and an end
  • 19. Discussion: Beginning C| Sentence 1: Clearly state the answer to the research question ClNext, your conclusions based on the resu| ts—strongest evidence first ClNever begin with a survey of background information — ClNever repeat background information from Introduction
  • 20. Discussion: Middle Cllnterpret the results: how they support the answer to the research question C'Discuss topics relating to the answer in descending order of importance C| Discuss your own or others‘ studies, placing your findings in their context
  • 21. Discussion: Middle (c0nt’d) C| Present your least impressive results C| Explain any study limitations DExp| ain any unexpected findings C| Anticipate valid criticisms ClHelp your readers gauge r~ What can be confidently learned _ r~ What is more speculative
  • 22. Discussion: End C| End strong: what’s the take-home message? C| Restate the answer to the research quesfion E| Mention possible applications, implications, or speculations C| Consider what next? Suggest future work
  • 23. Abstract DWrite the abstract for the first draft C| Focus on the basic components: > What question was asked? (background) > What was supposed to happen? (tested hypothesis) > How and in whom was the study done? (methods) > What was found? (results) > What does it mean to others? (conclusion)
  • 24. References C| Fol| ow the journal’s Instructions to Authors Ellnvest in a reference citation database manager DBe as rigorous and accurate in citing and preparing your references as you are in the conduct your scientific experiments
  • 25. Revise, Listen, Revise, Be Patient ClRevise, revise, revise in response to feedback from others E| Don't wait until the paper is done to get feedback ClSit down and interact with a colleague giving feedback: more helpful than scribbled notes C| Be patient: Don't rush the writing process
  • 26. Where did they go wrong. . . ?
  • 27. Common Deficiencies D Ambiguity Of m€th0dS El Study limitations not (77% - Cl Conclusions not described (51%) (/ $32’-O; a)nted data C] UnClear tables 0 Cl Overly long D glgalguity Of results discussion (49%) D Poor referencing D Inadequate definition (55%) of terms (49 / o) : Cl Inadequate study Cl Subject selection bias desi n description (40%) (51%) From Taylor DM, Brown AF. Analysis of the study design and manuscript deficiencies in research articles submitted to Eniergcncy Medicine. Emerg . led (Fremantle). 200] ; l3(4):444-450.