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Writing Scientific Manuscripts in English

Writing Scientific Manuscripts in English

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Writing Scientific Manuscripts in English

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  1. Writing Scientific Manuscripts in English Dr. M. Kevin O Carroll BDS, MSD Fellow, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Diplomate, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Professor Emeritus, University of Mississippi School of Dentistry International Consultant, Chiang Mai University Faculty of Dentistry

  2. Scientific Paper • Written and published report describing original research results • Must be written in a certain way • Must be published in a certain way

  3. Scientific Paper • What do we mean by “written in a certain way?” • Following a certain format • IMRAD • Introduction • Methods • Results and • Discussion

  4. Scientific Paper • What do we mean by “published in a certain way?” • “Valid” or “Primary” Publication • Difficult concept to explain • A number of tests

  5. Scientific PaperExamples of non-primary publications • Abstracts • Theses • Conference Reports • Government Reports • Institutional Bulletins

  6. Scientific PaperTests for Primary Publication • First disclosure containing sufficient information to enable peers to • 1) assess observations • 2) repeat experiments and • 3) evaluate intellectual processes

  7. Scientific PaperTests for Primary Publication • Susceptible to sensory perception • Essentially permanent • Available to scientific community without restriction • Available for regular screening by secondary services (indexing)

  8. Scientific PaperWhat Does All This Mean? • First Disclosure • Oral presentation? – No • Scientific abstract from a meeting? – No • First Disclosure must be in a form that allows the peers of the author, either now or later, to fully comprehend and use the information that is disclosed

  9. Scientific PaperWhat Does All This Mean? • Peers must be able to • 1) assess the observations • Did you do a proper literature review? • Did you design the experiment properly? • 2) repeat the experiments • Are they described in sufficient detail that I can repeat them? and • 3) evaluate intellectual processes • Are your conclusions justified by the results?

  10. Scientific PaperWhat Does All This Mean? • Susceptible to sensory perception • Normally it means “published” but now includes media such as: • Print • Journals, film, microfiche • Audio • Electronic • Must still pass the other tests

  11. Scientific PaperWhat Does All This Mean? • Permanent • In a form that libraries will keep in their permanent collections • So, not newsletters or bulletins that may be thrown away after short periods such as a few months or a year

  12. Scientific PaperSummary • Primary publication is • The first publication of original research • In a form whereby peers can repeat the experiments and test the conclusions, and • In a journal or other source document readily available to the scientific community

  13. Scientific PaperSummary • Peers of the author is now generally accepted to mean pre-publication peer-review • So, just any journal, even if it is in a library’s permanent collection, does not constitute primary or valid publication • It must be a peer-reviewed journal

  14. Peer-reviewed Journals • Editor • Editorial Board • Helps the editor establish editorial policy • Manuscript reviewers • Help the editor identify manuscripts for publication • Accept • Reject • Accept after modifications

  15. Peer-reviewed Journals • Manuscript reviewers • Editor usually selects 2 or 3 reviewers per manuscript • Very specific instructions • Evaluate the experimental procedure • Do the results justify the conclusions? • Check one third of the references for accuracy

  16. Scientific Paper • Understanding the concepts of valid or primary publication and proper form will make the writing task easier than it would otherwise be.

  17. Scientific Manuscript • Before a scientific paper is published it is referred to as a scientific manuscript • After publication it may be referred to as a paper or an article

  18. Title Author(s) and addresses Abstract Introduction Materials and Methods Results Discussion Acknowledgements References Tables Illustrations Other considerations Scientific Manuscripts

  19. Title Author(s) and addresses Abstract Introduction Materials and Methods Results Discussion Acknowledgements References Tables Illustrations Other considerations Scientific Manuscripts

  20. Title • Title is read by thousands of people • Abstract is read perhaps by hundreds • Whole article may be read by only a few people • Isn’t that a great pity, especially after you have spent so may hours writing the manuscript? • Sad but true

  21. Title • If your title does not convey the essence of the paper, nobody will bother to read the paper • Every word in the title must be chosen with great care • The syntax (relationship between the words) must be carefully managed • Think of the title as a label for the paper, something that will entice the reader

  22. Title • The fewest possible words that adequately describe the contents of the paper • Ideally not a sentence • Unless you have a strong message backed up by strong evidence • No waste words (A, the, an, “Observations on”) • Long titles are usually less meaningful than short ones

  23. Title • Specific • “Actions of antibiotics on bacteria”

  24. Title • Specific • “Actions of antibiotics on bacteria” • Short but tells us little

  25. Title • Specific • “Actions of antibiotics on bacteria” • Short but tells us little • “Preliminary observations on the effect of certain antibiotics on various species of bacteria”

  26. Title • Specific • “Actions of antibiotics on bacteria” • Short but tells us little • “Preliminary observations on the effect of certain antibiotics on various species of bacteria” • Longer but tells us no more

  27. Title • Specific • “Actions of antibiotics on bacteria” • Short but tells us little • “Preliminary observations on the effect of certain antibiotics on various species of bacteria” • Longer but tells us no more • “Action of streptomycin on Mycobactrium tuberculosis”

  28. Title • Specific • “Actions of antibiotics on bacteria” • Short but tells us little • “Preliminary observations on the effect of certain antibiotics on various species of bacteria” • Longer but tells us no more • “Action of streptomycin on Mycobactrium tuberculosis” • Better, but still too general

  29. Title • Specific • “Actions of antibiotics on bacteria” • Short but tells us little • “Preliminary observations on the effect of certain antibiotics on various species of bacteria” • Longer but tells us no more • “Action of streptomycin on Mycobactrium tuberculosis” • Better, but still too general • “Inhibition of growth of Mycobactrium tuberculosis bystreptomycin”

  30. Title • Syntax very important in titles • “Mechanism of suppression of non-transmissible pneumonia in mice induced by Newcastle disease virus”

  31. Title • Syntax very important in titles • “Mechanism of suppression of non-transmissible pneumonia in mice induced by Newcastle disease virus” • Mice that were induced by . . . virus? • Pneumonia that was induced • So, why separate the “induced” from the “pneumonia?”

  32. Title • “Mechanism of suppression of non-transmissible pneumonia in mice induced by Newcastle disease virus” • Revision: • “Mechanism of suppression of non-transmissible pneumonia induced in mice by Newcastle disease virus”

  33. Title • “Multiple infections among newborns resulting from implantation with staphylococcus aureus” • Revision: • “Multiple infections resulting from implantationofnewborns with staphylococcus aureus”

  34. Title • Be careful when you use “using” • Most common dangling participle in scientific writing • “Isolation of antigens from monkeys using compliment fixation techniques.”

  35. Title • “Isolation of antigens from monkeys using compliment fixation techniques.” • Revision: • “Isolation of antigens from monkeys by means of compliment fixation techniques.”

  36. Title • Do not use abbreviations • “hydrochloric acid” or “HCl” in a title? • If you were looking for an article in an index, you would look under “hy” not “hc” • Furthermore, if you were compiling a bibliography from a computer service, you would find only some of the literature if some authors used (or editors accepted) abbreviations and others did not

  37. Title • Do not use jargon, proprietary names or outdated terminology • They lead to problems with indexing

  38. Title • Do not use series titles (“ . . . Part I. . . . .” etc.) • The part before the Roman numeral is usually so general as to be useless • The article can be hard to understand unless all parts are available to the reader • They cause problems for editors(What happens if Part IV is accepted but Part III is rejected or delayed in review?) and indexers

  39. Title • A hanging title is better (a colon is used instead of the Roman numeral) but still causes indexing problems • Editors increasingly believe that each published paper should present the results of an independent, cohesive study

  40. Title Author(s) and addresses Abstract Introduction Materials and Methods Results Discussion Acknowledgements References Tables Illustrations Other considerations Scientific Manuscripts

  41. Authors and addresses • Order of names • No universal agreement • Most popular is listing in order of seniority (in relation to the study) • First author should be the one who did most or all of the research • Subsequent authors should be in order of importance to the study

  42. Authors and addresses • Order of names • The tendency of laboratory directors or department chairs to have their names on all manuscripts coming out of their labs or departments should be discouraged • Nobody in the scientific community is fooled

  43. Authors and addresses • Order of names • Some journals now require all authors to sign a statement accepting intellectual responsibility for the research results being reported • In the US there have been cases of institutions having to return millions of dollars of research funding to the government because of such fraudulent authorship

  44. Authors and addresses • Proper and consistent form • Last name, first name, middle initial(s) • Always use the same form • If you sometimes use John K. Smith and other times J. K. Smith, your work will be difficult to locate • If you change your name (e.g., upon marriage) people who do not know you will not be able to find all your work

  45. Authors and addresses • Degrees and titles • This will be determined by the specific journal • There are two principal journals in my field and they have different philosophies One accepts degrees but not titles (Dr., Prof., etc), the other does not. • No matter where you wish to publish, read the Instructions to Authors first. They will provide the information you need.

  46. Authors and addresses • Degrees and titles • An interesting problem for indexers. • George Kennedy and Desmond Brown, colleagues of mine published a paper. • George’s degrees and qualifications were B.D.S., D. Orth., F.D.S., R.C.S. and Desmond’s was B.D.S. • When the article appeared in the Index to Dental Literature, the authors were listed as: • Kennedy G, Orth D, Brown D • It looked as if there were three authors because the indexer misidentified George’s second degree as an author

  47. Authors and addresses • Addresses • With one author, one address is given, the one where the research was done • If, before publication, an author has moved to another address, the new address should be indicated in a “Present address” footnote • With multiple authors, each in a different institution, the addresses should be listed in the same order as the authors

  48. Authors and addresses • Addresses • With three authors in two instutions, problems sometimes arise • A common solution is to place a superscript a, b, or c after their names and before the addresses • Consult the Instructions for Authors

  49. Title Author(s) and addresses Abstract Introduction Materials and Methods Results Discussion Acknowledgements References Tables Illustrations Other considerations Scientific Manuscripts

  50. Abstract • Mini-version of the paper • Brief summary of each section of the paper • Written in one paragraph <250 words • Some journals now require a structured abstract consisting of a few paragraphs • Headings matching the sections of the paper • Although read first, it should be written after the manuscript is finished, when you know what to put in it