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Preparing Manuscripts for Submission to Medical Journals: Gilbert Welch For author affiliations, current addresses, and contributions, see end of text. Preparing a manuscript for publication in a medical journal is hard work. To make it easier to prepare a readable manuscript.
Start early—A substantial portion of the manuscript can be written before the project is completed. Even though you will revise it later, starting early will help document the methods and guide the analysis. Focus on high-visibility components—Pay attention to what readers are most likely to look at: Strive to develop a set of tables and figures that convey not only the major results but also the basic methods.
Develop a systematic approach to the body of the paper—A standard framework can make it easier to write the introduction, methods, results, and discussion.
An obvious organization with frequent subheadings and consistent labels makes the paper easier to read. Finish strong—Improve the paper by sharing it with others and by learning how to elicit and receive their feedback.
Take the time to incorporate useful feedback by revising frequently. Take Home Points Preparing a manuscript for publication in a medical journal is hard work.
Authors must strike a balance between being comprehensive and being clear.
And, to continue to have the time to do research, they must develop a systematic approach to manuscript preparation. Without a systematic approach, the effort can easily become haphazard. This consumes more time and produces an inferior product, which frustrates authors, editors, and readers alike.
Worse, good researchers can easily become discouraged—resulting in unwritten research or unpublished papers. Although others have provided useful guidance in the proper style and structure of scientific writing, this article offers a different level of guidance: The emphasis is on writing original research articles, but this guidance also applies to other kinds of papers.
My goal is simple: Starting Early Writing a good paper is a complex task. It requires both creative energy and quiet reflection. The road to the finished product is never straight, is often rough, and may well involve a few dead ends.
In short, writing takes time. It is easier if it is not left until the last minute. You can start writing three components of the paper before the work is completed. Sketch out the introduction at the time the investigation is conceived or when external funding is being sought.
Draft the methods while the research is being conducted as a running account of what is being done as it is being done. Finally, develop skeleton forms of numeric data often called dummy tables early on.
Putting something down on paper early is valuable even though you will revise it later. Clarifying the motivation for the paper in the introduction helps you identify a context in which to place your work.
Early documentation of the methods helps avoid having to reconstruct subtle steps of the research long after they have occurred. The structure of dummy tables helps focus your analytic effort. Most important, writing forces critical thought about your work. In particular, invest some time thinking about the main message of your paper.
Further crystallize these points by articulating them to your colleagues; you may want to try several variations.Scholarly writing is a critical skill for physicians in academic medicine. 1,2 Although technology is changing the way in which physicians practice medicine, teach, and engage in research, “the written word remains one of the most important means for communicating that information to others.” 3 An ability to publish clinical and research.
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