- Select the journal that best fits your research to help guide the structure of your manuscript.
- Create your figures early on to help you focus on the findings.
- Write a draft of your cover letter and/or Abstract to distill the Whys and Whats of your research.
- Write your Methods while performing the experiments.
- Write your Results in the order of your Methods.
- Keep it simple.
- Keep your Discussion focused. Your research is a broad and interesting topic, but the Discussion should be focused on this specific study.
- Have a colleague familiar with your research read your manuscript before finalizing it.
- Ask a friend who is not in your field read the manuscript to ensure its readability.
- Consider hiring a professional science editor to help you clearly communicate your science.
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One of the biggest problems within the scientific community is the amount of research that is not being submitted in writing for peer review. Ideally, all results would be quickly written up so that further study and important collaboration can follow. Why do so many investigators procrastinate writing up their studies? The key to writing good science, according to William Zinsser, the late writer, editor, and teacher and author of On Writing Well, is to transfer clear logical thinking to paper, or as Steven Pinker refers to it in his latest book, The Sense of Style, establishing an “arc of coherence”.
Scientists who are slow to write up their research for others to read and assess will not benefit from the input of others, or the ability to move their science forward. For this reason, all successful scientific researchers eventually must find ways to push past procrastination and fear of failure so that others can read, collaborate, critique, and expand on their findings. How can the writing process be streamlined so that communicating your science to the world does not hamper you from actually doing your science? We provide a simple form that can be filled out during the experimental process to facilitate the write-up of your research, allowing you to submit a clearly written paper for publication promptly after you obtain your results. Download the form here.
For those who struggle with writing, SciTechEdit International offers a simple solution to make writing less threatening. Follow a simple format when getting your thoughts down on paper; doing this will take the agony out of writing.
As a first step, it is extremely helpful to decide where you will submit your manuscript before you begin the writing process, as many journals provide guidance that may differ from that of other journals. Familiarity with the article types that the journal publishes will help you with the presentation of your own findings. Are your findings broadly applicable to various fields or specialized?
You may also wish to write a quick rough draft of your cover letter to the editor, as this will force you to distill your reasons for performing your study and descriptions of the critical findings in only a few sentences, which will also form the basis of your manuscript. After completion of the manuscript, you can go back to refine your letter. A concise, informative letter can make a big difference in the decision to send your manuscript on to reviewers.