Do’s and Don’ts for writing the perfect medical manuscript

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imagesMedicine is one of the most researched disciplines in the world. With modern medicine evolving rapidly, the number of new research papers submitted for publication annually has also witnessed an exponential increase. Most medical journals the world over deal with a glut of research papers submitted to them every year, but only a fraction of these ever get accepted for publication. Considering the low acceptance rate, the pressure on researchers from the field of medicine is high and the emphasis on developing a clear, well-structured, and high-quality medical research paper is high. The field of medical writing involves following a highly codified process and stringent guidelines as the disciplines it deals with can have a major impact on scholarship in this field as well as have practical applications in the practice of medicine and medical science. So what, then, is the best way to write the perfect medical manuscript?

Quick tips for persuasive medical writing

1) Read the Guide to Writers: Every journal/publication has its own style guide that details the instructions to be followed by authors when writing a research paper. The imperative first step in writing a successful manuscript is to access and understand the guide to writers.

2) Methods and Materials: This is the most important section of a medical manuscript as it discusses the research methodology. Ensuring that this section is succinct yet comprehensible is key to writing an effective medical manuscript. This section should describe your study in sufficient detail so that a skilled medical investigator is able to recreate the study successfully. If your study involved the use of human subjects or animal testing it is advisable to mention details of consent received from relevant groups such as the Institutional Board Review Consent or from participants.

3) The Results: The Results section is the second most important segment of your manuscript. Once you have described what your research entailed and how you went about it, including procedures, a reviewer will be most interested in your results. One way of learning how to write an effective Results section is to browse through previously published medical articles in reputed publications and understand how the results have been published. When describing your results, it is preferable to use statistical figures rather than tables.

4) Findings: Discuss your findings in detail, but restrict this section to around 1000 words. Your discussion will have to be oriented to how and where you will place your findings in a clinical or scientific context. Writing a strong introduction to this section, something that is likely to capture the reader’s attention is a good strategy. Present your findings as a cause-effect relationship. This makes it a lot simpler for a reader/reviewer to connect your findings to your work.

5) The Introduction: The most important fact about writing an introduction for a research manuscript is that an introduction should be developed after and not before you complete the other sections mentioned above. Formulate the introduction by stating your primary intent behind conducting the research, brief information about your findings, and why your results/findings are important to the field. These aspects will be a lot clearer to you after you complete the abstract, the methods and materials, results, and findings. Remember to keep the introduction succinct yet coherent as it will be the second section the reviewer reads after your abstract.

6) References: The References section functions as a guide to the reviewer or reader about how your work relates to other research in the field. The references you list also provide a basis for your work and acknowledge the authors of research papers you may have referred to while working on your dissertation.

7) The Abstract: The abstract of a manuscript must be written only when an author has completed writing the entire manuscript. When writing the abstract, consult the journal’s guide to authors for the appropriate style and formatting tips. Stick to the word limit prescribed. The abstract need not be exhaustive but it must cover everything that the manuscript contains. It is after all the first section readers/reviewers will read and functions as a marketing tool to convince them to continue reading as well as forward your manuscript for peer-review.

To access an exhaustive guide on commonly spotted errors in medical manuscripts refer to this article by Nikhil Pinto, subject-matter expert, Editage:



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