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How to write a scientific article

How to write a scientific article. Saleem Saaed Qader MBChB, MD, MSc, MPH, PhD, SBGS Consultant General Surgeon, Lecturer. General Director, Medical Research Centre, Hawler Medical University Department of Surgery, Rizgary Teaching Hospital

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How to write a scientific article

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  1. How to write a scientific article Saleem Saaed QaderMBChB, MD, MSc, MPH, PhD, SBGSConsultant General Surgeon, Lecturer General Director, Medical Research Centre, Hawler Medical University Department of Surgery, Rizgary Teaching Hospital Department of Surgery, Medical College, Hawler Medical University TMC Oct 2014

  2. How to write a scientific text? • Logical in such way that others can repeat it • Find out what is already known in the field • Find relevant published litteraturs (References) • Figures and tables should be clear • Language – simple and clear sentences • Understandable and comprehensive

  3. Before starting to write the paper • Record your results • Make tables and draw graphs • Open a file to record summaries of results • Date the files • Revise your readings (repeat an experiment) • Write ideas whenever they come to you

  4. IMRAD Format • I = Introduction (what problem was studied) • M = Methods (how was the problem studied) • R = Results (what are the findings) • A = and • D = Discussion (what do these findings mean or what is learned from these findings)

  5. Essential parts of a scientific paper • Title: Describe the core contents of the paper • Abstract: Summarize the major elements • Introduction: Provide context/rationale for study • Materials: Describe the design (reproducible) • Methods: Describe the experimental procedures • Results: Summarize the finding (not interpret) • Discussion: Interpret the findings of the study • Conclusions: What does your results mean!! • Acknowledgement: Give credit to those helped • References: papers, books& websites (you cited) • Legends for tables and figures

  6. Title page Title List of the Authors and their affiliations Those who have actively contributed to the paper, First author is the senior author Key Wards: for indexing Running Title Correspondence: the one who submit it and to be responsible for contact in the future

  7. Authorship • Getting funds, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group, alone does not justify authorship • Each author should have sufficiently participated in the work • The corresponding author should ensure that all appropriate co-authors are included on the paper • People who have helped but not authors should be acknowledged

  8. The Title • A good title is defined as the fewest possible words that adequately describe the contents • It is extremely important and must be chosen with great care as it will be read by thousands, whereas few will read the entire paper • Indexing and abstracting of the paper depends on the accuracy of the titleAn improperly titled paper will get lost and will never be read

  9. Titles should neither be too short nor too long • Waste words (studies on, investigations on, a, an, the etc) should not be used • It should contain the keywords • It should be meaningful and not general • It should be concise, specific and informative • It should capture the fundamental nature of the experiments and findings

  10. How to prepare the title • Make a list of the most important keywords • Think of a title that contains these words • The title could state the conclusion of the paper • The title NEVER contains abbreviations, chemical formulas • Think, rethink of the title before submitting • Be very careful of the grammatical errors

  11. The Abstract • A summary of the information • It is written clearly/simply, as it is the first and sometimes the only part of the study read • It should provide a brief summary of each section • State the principal objective/scope of the study • Describe the methods, results & the conclusions • It is written after completion of the paper “readable, well-organized, brief and self-contained “

  12. Criteria of the Abstract • It should not exceed 250 words • It should be written in one paragraph • It should be written in the past tense • Long words followed by their abbreviations which will be used throughout the paper • It should not cite any references • It should not give information that is not in a paper • Must be accurate with respect to figures

  13. The Introduction It should answer the following questions: • What was the study? • Why was this an important question? • What did I know about this topic before (study)? • What model was I testing? • What approach did I take in this study? “short, concise, comprehensive” Objective/ Hypothesis at the end of introduction

  14. General rules • Use the present tense when referring to others • Use the active voice as much as possible • Avoid lengthy/unfocused reviews of literatures • Cite peer-reviewed literature or reviews • Avoid general reference (textbooks) • Define any specialized terms or abbreviations

  15. Materials and Methods • Provide full details (can be repeated) • If the peer reviewer has doubts that the experiments could be repeated, the manuscript will be rejected • Organize the methods under subheadings, with related methods described together (e.g. subjects, experimental design, measurement of…, hormonal assays etc…) • Describe the experimental design in detail • Do not mix the results in this section • Write in the past tense

  16. Materials • Must identify accurately animals, plants, and microorganisms used by genus, species and strain • The source of subjects studied, number of individuals in each group used, sex, age & weight must be defined • If human subjects are used, the criteria for selection should be described: Inclusion/ Exclusion criteria • For chemicals: include exact technical specifications, source or method of preparation • Avoid use of trade names of chemicals, generic or chemical names are preferred

  17. Methods • It must be clear, precise/concise (reproducible) • If the method is new, all details must be provided • If the method has been previously published in a scientific journal, only the reference should be given with some identification • Questions: “how/ how much” must be answered • Statistics must be mentioned

  18. Ethics consideration • Ethics consideration & consent (verbal or written) • Research subjects rights to withdraw from the study at any stage • How the research was explained to the research subjects • REC: Research Ethics Committee approval, when and where

  19. Results • It is written in the past tense • It is the core or heart of the paper • Clear/ simple since it constitutes the new science • The purpose is to summarize/ illustrate the findings in an orderly/ logical sequence, without interpretation • The text should guide the reader through the findings, stressing the major points • Do not describe methods that have already been described in the M&M section

  20. Methods of presenting the data • In the text • In a table • In a figure • All figures/tables must be accompanied by a textual presentation of the key findings • Never have a table or figure that is not mentioned in the text

  21. Tables and figures • Tables are appropriate for large or complicated data sets that would be difficult to explain in a text • Figures are appropriate for data sets that exhibit trends, patterns, or relationships that are best conveyed visually • Any table or figure must be sufficiently described by its title or legend, to be understandable without reading the main text of results • Do not include both a table and a figure showing the same information

  22. Discussion Analyse, Asses, Classify and Interpret Give your own idea and try to show your conceptual ability that you have digested the subject What do your findings mean? Summarize the most important findings

  23. How to write the discussion • It is the hardest section to write • Its primary purpose is to show the relationships among observed facts • It should end with a short summary (conclusion) regarding the significance of the work

  24. Components of the discussion • Try to present the principles, relationships, and generalizations shown by the results • Point out any exceptions or any lack of correlation and define unsettled points • Show how your results agree or contrast with previously published work • Discuss the theoretical implications, and any possible practical applications • State your conclusions as clearly as possible

  25. Conclusions What can you logically conclude through the analysis of your data?  Introduce your conclusions by using a strong verb such as ”show” or ”indicate”Identify speculations by using ”might” with the verb

  26. Acknowledgments You should acknowledge: • Any significant technical help from any one in your lab/ elsewhere • The source of equipment, cultures, or any other material • Any financial assistance e.g. grants, contracts or fellowships • Your university (HMU) for sponsoring … • Do not use the word “wish”, simply write “I thank …..” and not “I wish to thank…” • Acknowledgement is to the person whose help is acknowledging

  27. Acknowledgments; Thesis The supervisor (everything is his/her fault, but he/ she deserves a thank!) Include people who gave you key ideas Co-advisors and colleagues who have helped you with various aspects of the research work, including collection of field data Colleagues who read and commented the manuscript(s) prior to submission for publication and journal’s referees Relatives (wife/husband, girl/boyfriend, children, parants, grand parants, etc) and friends

  28. References What is referencing? It is a standardized way of acknowledging the sources of information/ ideas used in your paper • A list of ALL the references used in the text must be written • Reference format varies widely: • Harvard format (name/ year system): most widely used • Alphabet-Number system is a modification of name and year system • Citation order system

  29. In-text citations In name and year system: • Citation in the text is followed by the author’s last name/year of publication between parentheses • If they were two authors (both last names are written • If more than two then the only first author’s name is written followed by: abbreviation et al • If a single statement requires more than one citation then arrange them chronologically from oldest to more recent, separated by semicolons • If more than one reference share the same year then arrange them alphabetically within the year

  30. In name and year system: • The reference list is arranged alphabetically by author • If an item has no author, it is cited by title, and included in the list using the first significant word of the title • If more than one item has the same author, list the items chronologically, starting with the earliest publication • Each reference appears on a new line • There is no indentation of the references • There is no numbering of the references

  31. In alphabet-number system: It the same as above but each reference is given a number (Citation by number from an alphabetically arranged numbered reference list ) In Citation order system: The reference list is arranged by the number given to the citation by the order that it were mentioned in the text

  32. Reference List • Any papers not cited in the text should not be included • Reference lists allow readers to investigate the subject in greater depth • A reference list contains only the articles that are cited in the text of the document

  33. Book 1.  Okuda M, Okuda D. Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future.  New York: Pocket Books; 1993. Journal or Magazine Article (with volume numbers) 2.  Wilcox RV. Shifting roles and synthetic women in Star trek: the next generation. Stud Pop Culture. 1991;13:53-65. Newspaper, Magazine (without volume numbers) 3.  Di Rado A. Trekking through college: classes explore modern society using the world of Star trek. Los Angeles Times. March 15, 1995:A3.       Encyclopedia Article 4.  Sturgeon T. Science fiction. In: Lorimer LT, editorial director; Cummings C, ed-in-chief; Leish KW, managing ed. The Encyclopedia Americana. Vol 24. International ed. Danbury, Conn: Grolier Incorporated; 1995:390-392.

  34. Book Article or Chapter 5.  James NE. Two sides of paradise: the Eden myth according to Kirk and Spock. In: Palumbo D, ed. Spectrum of the Fantastic. Westport, Conn: Greenwood; 1988:219-223. ERIC Document 6.  Fuss-Reineck M. Sibling Communication in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Conflicts Between Brothers. Miami, Fla: Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association; 1993. ERIC Document Reproduction Service ED364932. Website 7.  Lynch T. DSN trials and tribble-ations review. Psi Phi: Bradley's Science Fiction Club Web site. 1996. Available at: http://www.bradley.edu/campusorg/psiphi/DS9/ep /503r.htm. Accessed October 8, 1997. Journal Article on the Internet 8.  McCoy LH. Respiratory changes in Vulcans during ponfarr. J Extr Med [serial online]. 1999;47:237-247. Available at: http://infotrac.galegroup.com/itweb/nysl_li_liu. Accessed April 7, 1999.

  35. How to Write – and Rewrite Writing is a Lonely but social, business Good Writing is Rewriting (editing) Get in the (daily) habit An outline helps lots The three stages of writing Roughing it Shaping it Polishing it – including some basic rules

  36. Heads Main ideas: centered, bold first level head Second level head: left flush/bold (on its own line) Third level head: Italic, Bold: not on its own line, starts a paragraph

  37. Final Polishing for Style:Rules to aid comprehension 1. Minimize words > 2 syllables (shorter words) 2. All sentences should be 3 lines or less • 3. Avoid using the passive voice“It has been found…”. “It has been shown…” 4. Put Subject-Object Near Each Other Example “You can climb up the few steps and see what is really ‘no man’s land’ filled with weeds, rubbish and buildings about to fall down, to try seeing the Turkish side.” [Barbara Kingstone, European Reporter, September 21, 2006: 10. www.europeanreporter.com] Fix: To see the Turkish side, you can climb up the few steps

  38. 5. Do not use many commasInterrupts the reader’s flow of attentionExample: It was found, however, that social support, especially emotional support is affected by gender.Fix: Gender affects social support, especially emotional support. 6. Only 1-2 thoughts per sentence (more causes confusion)

  39. 7. Keep sentences in logical order 8. Keep Clauses and Phrases Parallel Original:They may be reacting to distress or may attempt to make the unit do better.Fix:They may be reacting to distress or attempting to make the unit do better

  40. 9. Use Short ParagraphEasier to read always lead your paragraph with a strong point – don’t bury it 10. Use Bulleted or Number PointsOtherwise readers get lost in a long list 11. Use Plurals To avoid sexist language Example: He/she needs to learn to write. Fix: They need to learn to write

  41. References • Robert Day (1995): How to write and publish a scientific paper. 4th Edition, Cambridge University Press • University of Queensland (2009) References/Bibliography Harvard Style • http://www.library.uq.edu.au/training/citation/harvard_6.pdf


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