W. Stenson: Manuscript Writing
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W. Stenson: Manuscript Writing

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    W. Stenson: Manuscript Writing W. Stenson: Manuscript Writing Presentation Transcript

    • Manuscript Writing William F. Stenson M.D. Professor of Medicine Division of Gastroenterology Washington University School of Medicine
    • How do you write a scientific paper?
    • Hey, Old Guy, how can I be published and funded while coming in late, leaving early and spending the interim drinking coffee?
    • Importance of Scientific Writing
      • Writing is generally undervalued
      • Writing is not given sufficient priority either in time or effort
      • Effective writing has more to do with logical thinking than with “style”
    • Before You Write
    • The time to think about writing is when you design the study
      • When you design the study you should have some idea of how it would appear in print, in particular how the figures would appear
      • A paper with good data almost writes itself
    • Study Design
      • The study should be designed to answer a specific and easily articulated question
      • Each experiment should be easily related to the question addressed by the study
    • Think about each experiment in terms of how it would fit in a paper
      • After the experiment make a figure such as would appear in a paper
      • Think about which figure would appear next in a paper
    • Constant Reassessment If you constantly review where you are and think “What more do I need to make a paper” you will avoid three big problems: *Not knowing when to stop *Doing studies that are not going to fit into any paper *Ending up with portions of three papers but not all of any one paper
    • Decisions
      • Analyze your study to determine what decisions you made (what model to use, what methods to use, time points, concentrations)
      • It is better to do this analysis when you are designing the study
      • Identify those decisions that may need to be explained/justified
      • Use sentences that begin “We chose to do ________ because_______”
    • Old Technology, New Technology There is a temptation to use the technology you are familiar with rather than the technology that is appropriate to answer the question at hand .
    • How Much is Enough?
      • You can always do more, you can always do less
      • Look at other papers in the journal of interest to see the scope of the studies
      • Try to define the scope of the study before you start
    • Writing
    • Starting to write
      • Start by developing the figures
      • Then do the figure legends
    • Title
      • Does your title summarize the main point of your paper?
    • The importance of the abstract, figures and figure legends
      • The editor/reviewer should be able to evaluate the paper based on the abstract, the figures and the figure legends alone
    • Abstract
      • Does the abstract have a single sentence that clearly defines the fundamental question being addressed in the study?
      • Is all the information in the abstract consistent with the information in the rest of the paper?
      • Have you stated your main conclusion?
      • Does the conclusion relate to the fundamental question?
    • Introduction
      • Have you reviewed the relevant literature in your introduction?
      • Is the significance of your study clear from the introduction?
      • Have you stated the specific purpose of your paper at the end of your introduction?
    • Materials and Methods
      • Have you described all selection criteria in your methods?
      • Have you described all the methods you used?
    • Results
      • Is the result section logically organized?
      • Do you use transition sentences?
      • Do you explain your decisions?
      • Have you presented your findings in one place only?
      • Have you omitted all interpretation of the data?
    • Transition sentences
      • “ Having demonstrated ______ , we next sought to determine __________ using the ______ method. This experiment demonstrated ____________ . These studies indicate ________________ .”
    • Decisions
      • Analyze your study to determine what decisions you made (what model to use, what methods to use, time points, concentrations)
      • It is better to do this analysis when you are designing the study
      • Identify those decisions that may need to be explained/justified
      • Use sentences that begin “We chose to do ________ because_______”
    • Discussion
      • Is the answer to the study question presented at the beginning of the Discussion?
      • Have you explained the meaning and significance of your results rather than merely repeating them?
    • The Review Process
    • How one reviewer reviews
      • Reads abstract
      • Examines figures and figure legends
      • Reads the rest of the manuscript to answer questions created by the review of the abstract, figures and figure legends
    • Questions Reviewers Ask
      • Who cares? Is there an important question addressed?
      • How does this fit in with previous work?
      • Does the experimental design fit the question?
      • Does the data mean what the investigator says it means?
      • If I were doing this study would I have done it differently?
      • Are there other experiments I would have done? Did the investigator do them and not tell us?
    • The review, potential responses
      • Accept
      • Happy Reject
      • Willing Reject
      • Priority Reject
    • Reasons for Rejection
      • The research does not address an important question
      • The results do not make a “discernible point”
      • The results are not novel
      • Problems with experimental design
      • Problems with the quality of the data
    • Replying to Reviewers
      • Remember your goal is to be published not to demonstrate that you are smarter than the reviewers
      • The editor’s letter should spell out the minimum that you need to do in terms of additional studies
      • You should respond to every comment even if you don’t do everything requested
    • How do you get published and funded?
      • Learn to focus
      • Learn to finish
      • Attempt to keep up technologically
      • Learn the system
      • Learn to write