Practical suggestions in the writing of a research paper.
Writing a scientific article requires proper planning and a methodical approach. This article provides practical tips to organize the materials before writing, and discusses how to approach the writing of different parts of an article; that is, introduction, materials and methods, results, and discussion. It also provides guidelines on authorship, citing references, selecting photographs, tables and legends, and finally on style, grammar and syntax. (+info)
Preparing manuscripts for submission to medical journals: the paper trail.
CONTEXT: Preparing a manuscript for publication in a medical journal is hard work. OBJECTIVE: To make it easier to prepare a readable manuscript. APPROACH: 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: the title, abstract, tables, and figures. 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. (+info)
What happens to the manuscripts that have not been accepted for publication in Occupational and Environmental Medicine?
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the fate of manuscripts rejected by Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM). METHODS: A Medline search was conducted, up to March 2001, to find out whether and where articles submitted to OEM in 1995, 1996, and 1997, but not accepted for publication, were published. The articles were matched by authors and title, sometimes using the abstract to help decide whether the published article was the one that had been previously submitted to OEM. RESULTS: Out of 405 manuscripts rejected (44% of those submitted), 218 articles (54%) were traced in 72 different journals, with more than half being published in seven other major journals dealing with occupational and environmental health (rather than in specialty journals). Most papers were published within 2 years of their initial submission to OEM. Only a small proportion (10%) were published in a journal with a higher impact factor than OEM (1.96 in 1999). CONCLUSION: More than half the articles rejected by OEM found their way into the scientific literature covered by Medline. This figure is comparable with the few available data from other journals. It would be interesting to know the fate of articles published by OEM before they were submitted to our journal. (+info)
Inter-rater agreement in the scoring of abstracts submitted to a primary care research conference.
BACKGROUND: Checklists for peer review aim to guide referees when assessing the quality of papers, but little evidence exists on the extent to which referees agree when evaluating the same paper. The aim of this study was to investigate agreement on dimensions of a checklist between two referees when evaluating abstracts submitted for a primary care conference. METHODS: Anonymised abstracts were scored using a structured assessment comprising seven categories. Between one (poor) and four (excellent) marks were awarded for each category, giving a maximum possible score of 28 marks. Every abstract was assessed independently by two referees and agreement measured using intraclass correlation coefficients. Mean total scores of abstracts accepted and rejected for the meeting were compared using an unpaired t test. RESULTS: Of 52 abstracts, agreement between reviewers was greater for three components relating to study design (adjusted intraclass correlation coefficients 0.40 to 0.45) compared to four components relating to more subjective elements such as the importance of the study and likelihood of provoking discussion (0.01 to 0.25). Mean score for accepted abstracts was significantly greater than those that were rejected (17.4 versus 14.6, 95% CI for difference 1.3 to 4.1, p = 0.0003). CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that inclusion of subjective components in a review checklist may result in greater disagreement between reviewers. However in terms of overall quality scores, abstracts accepted for the meeting were rated significantly higher than those that were rejected. (+info)
Manuscript Architect: a Web application for scientific writing in virtual interdisciplinary groups.
BACKGROUND: Although scientific writing plays a central role in the communication of clinical research findings and consumes a significant amount of time from clinical researchers, few Web applications have been designed to systematically improve the writing process. This application had as its main objective the separation of the multiple tasks associated with scientific writing into smaller components. It was also aimed at providing a mechanism where sections of the manuscript (text blocks) could be assigned to different specialists. Manuscript Architect was built using Java language in conjunction with the classic lifecycle development method. The interface was designed for simplicity and economy of movements. Manuscripts are divided into multiple text blocks that can be assigned to different co-authors by the first author. Each text block contains notes to guide co-authors regarding the central focus of each text block, previous examples, and an additional field for translation when the initial text is written in a language different from the one used by the target journal. Usability was evaluated using formal usability tests and field observations. RESULTS: The application presented excellent usability and integration with the regular writing habits of experienced researchers. Workshops were developed to train novice researchers, presenting an accelerated learning curve. The application has been used in over 20 different scientific articles and grant proposals. CONCLUSION: The current version of Manuscript Architect has proven to be very useful in the writing of multiple scientific texts, suggesting that virtual writing by interdisciplinary groups is an effective manner of scientific writing when interdisciplinary work is required. (+info)
Vascular knowledge in medieval times was the turning point for the humanistic trend.
OBJECTIVE: Knowledge of the history of our surgical specialty may broaden our viewpoint for everyday practice. We illustrate the scientific progress made in medieval times relevant to the vascular system and blood circulation, progress made despite prevailing religious and philosophical dogma. METHODS: We located all articles concerning vascular knowledge and historical reviews in databases such as MEDLINE, EMBASE and the database of abstracts of reviews (DARE). We also explored the database of the register from the French National Library, the French Medical Inter-University (BIUM), the Italian National Library and the French and Italian Libraries in the Vatican. All data were collected and analysed in chronological order. RESULTS: Medieval vascular knowledge was inherited from Greek via Byzantine and Arabic writings, the first controversies against the recognized vascular schema emanating from an Arabian physician in the 13th century. Dissection was forbidden and clerical rules instilled a fear of blood. Major contributions to scientific progress in the vascular field in medieval times came from Ibn-al-Nafis and Harvey. CONCLUSION: Vascular specialists today may feel proud to recall that once religious dogma declined in early medieval times, vascular anatomic and physiological discoveries led the way to scientific progress. (+info)
Statistical reviewers improve reporting in biomedical articles: a randomized trial.
BACKGROUND: Although peer review is widely considered to be the most credible way of selecting manuscripts and improving the quality of accepted papers in scientific journals, there is little evidence to support its use. Our aim was to estimate the effects on manuscript quality of either adding a statistical peer reviewer or suggesting the use of checklists such as CONSORT or STARD to clinical reviewers or both. METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Interventions were defined as 1) the addition of a statistical reviewer to the clinical peer review process, and 2) suggesting reporting guidelines to reviewers; with "no statistical expert" and "no checklist" as controls. The two interventions were crossed in a 2x2 balanced factorial design including original research articles consecutively selected, between May 2004 and March 2005, by the Medicina Clinica (Barc) editorial committee. We randomized manuscripts to minimize differences in terms of baseline quality and type of study (intervention, longitudinal, cross-sectional, others). Sample-size calculations indicated that 100 papers provide an 80% power to test a 55% standardized difference. We specified the main outcome as the increment in quality of papers as measured on the Goodman Scale. Two blinded evaluators rated the quality of manuscripts at initial submission and final post peer review version. Of the 327 manuscripts submitted to the journal, 131 were accepted for further review, and 129 were randomized. Of those, 14 that were lost to follow-up showed no differences in initial quality to the followed-up papers. Hence, 115 were included in the main analysis, with 16 rejected for publication after peer review. 21 (18.3%) of the 115 included papers were interventions, 46 (40.0%) were longitudinal designs, 28 (24.3%) cross-sectional and 20 (17.4%) others. The 16 (13.9%) rejected papers had a significantly lower initial score on the overall Goodman scale than accepted papers (difference 15.0, 95% CI: 4.6-24.4). The effect of suggesting a guideline to the reviewers had no effect on change in overall quality as measured by the Goodman scale (0.9, 95% CI: -0.3-+2.1). The estimated effect of adding a statistical reviewer was 5.5 (95% CI: 4.3-6.7), showing a significant improvement in quality. CONCLUSIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE: This prospective randomized study shows the positive effect of adding a statistical reviewer to the field-expert peers in improving manuscript quality. We did not find a statistically significant positive effect by suggesting reviewers use reporting guidelines. (+info)
Reviving the vascular surgeon-scientist: an interim assessment of the jointly sponsored Lifeline Foundation/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute William J. von Liebig Mentored Clinical Scientist Development (K08) Program.
The Lifeline Foundation/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute William J. von Liebig Mentored Clinical Scientist Development (K08) Award program was established as a unique partnership to support vascular surgeon-scientists. Between 1999 and 2005, 39 applications were submitted, and the overall funding rate was 49% (14 von Liebig K08s and 5 additional NHLBI K08s). Vascular surgeon K08 recipients (median age, 38 years) had held faculty appointments for 2.5 +/- 0.4 years, with 2.6 +/- 0.2 years of previous research experience and 28.4 +/- 6.2 publications. These individuals subsequently authored 5.1 +/- 0.8 peer-reviewed publications per recipient per year, of which 35% were research and 65% were clinical. Six of seven holding the K08 over 3 years had received academic promotion, and all five completing the 5-year award had achieved independent investigator status with National Institutes of Health support. The von Liebig K08 program has therefore been an effective vehicle to stimulate research career development in the field of vascular surgery. (+info)